Forbes magazine recently published an interesting feature on what they call the ‘last mile of customer service.’ The article focuses on the delivery process and how poor this can often be.
It’s an area worth exploring. Think how much your organisation spends on marketing, reaching out to new customers, retaining the existing customers, and developing great new innovative products. But how much attention is paid to the experience of actually getting something delivered?
Quite often delivery can be a nightmare. Courier companies have a strange belief that people are quite happy to sit at home all day waiting for a delivery to arrive and the customer should feel grateful if delivery in the morning or afternoon can be specified.
Some markets cracked this problem many years ago. In Japan, consumers have been used to deliveries timed within one hour or even 30 minute blocks for many years and Japanese stores such as 7-11 also pioneered the idea of delivery to a local branch (even products from another store) for later collection a long time before it was discussed as a part of the omnichannel discussion.
There is a lot of field technology utilising systems such as GPS that can improve the delivery experience and I want to write an additional blog that focuses on some of these possibilities, but first I want to see if you have any recollections of delivery nightmares yourself.
Leave a comment here on the blog or tweet me on @matt_sims1 and I’ll collect some of them together for the blog on how I think some of these processes can be improved.
Photo by Jesyka licensed under Creative Commons
It’s that time of the year again where everyone is thinking about what will happen in 2014. What are the important trends going to be and what do executives involved in customer service need to be thinking about?
At the start of this year we said that the Omnichannel was going to be the place to focus for 2013. I think we called that one right, but it’s going to continue as one of the key trends for 2014. Much of the underlying infrastructure that prevents retailers from truly embracing multichannel support for their customers is complex and takes a long time to change – this one is going to run and run.
But another key trend I see changing the market is the demand for support to be offered direct from mobile devices. People are shopping from their phone or iPad more and more and this doesn’t always lend itself to calling for support – people want a quick question answered via IM or a tweet when they are still just thinking about a purchase.
This connects back to the omnichannel and the need to be offering a very high level of service across multiple channels, but when such fundamental social shifts are taking place as we are seeing in the use of mobile devices right now, it would be foolish to ignore how this is also going to change the way customer services are delivered both before and after a purchase.
I’m going to publish a full list of my own predictions for contact centres and the customer service function in 2014 once we get closer to the New Year, but I’d love to hear your ideas now – what do you think should be on the list?
Leave a comment here on the blog or tweet me on @aniederer.
Photo by Amodiovalerio Verde licensed under Creative Commons
This infographic on customer experience by the marketing firm Shankman Honig features some eye-opening statistics. For instance:
- In 2012, 20% of customers left a regular service provider due to poor service
- 55% of consumers backed out of an intended purchase because of poor service
- 35% of consumers have lost their temper with a customer service representative in the past year
- 24% of consumers who lost their temper used their social network channels to tell friends about their poor service experience
We all know that bad news is easier to talk about than good news. When was the last time you tuned into the evening news and found a story about something nice? It’s the same personally – people usually find it easier to complain than to compliment and the statistics also bear this out.
On average people with a good customer experience share that experience with 15 people, but someone with a negative experience will share it with 24 others.
What these numbers boil down to is the old business school maxim that it is far harder to find new customers than to keep the ones you already have. In fact, academics estimate that it costs five times as much to win new customers as it does to just keep your existing customers happy – so why not consider investing a little more in making the customer experience better? It’s a sound investment according to these figures.
Photo by Meena Kadri licensed under Creative Commons
Your business has clear ideas about how it should present itself to the outside world. This leads to rules and guidelines about how employees should communicate with customers and others on the outside. But when those rules become so rigid that they appear to prevent the employee from helping a customer in need then you will find that what is really needed is balance.
Your employees handling customers know exactly what the customer needs and they can usually judge how your corporate brand should be represented. So how come more companies don’t just ditch all the guidelines and let their employees decide how to represent the brand?
Some do – well, at least they almost do.
Forbes magazine recently published an excellent summary of how hotel employees in the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton chains are given a high degree of autonomy to just do what the customer needs – cutting out the brand guidelines and trusting the employee to always make the hotel look good or helpful.
Instead of creating mountains of guidelines, companies like Ritz Carlton define standards, the standards they expect their employees to reach. Then the employees are cut loose and allowed to help customers however is needed – so long as the standards are maintained there is no need for formal guidelines on every single problem that might occur.
This kind of empowerment also creates a happier team. If your boss trusts you to look after customers without a script or long list or rules then your job is more flexible and more flexibility usually equals a happier team.
More empowerment looks like a great deal for employees, customers, and customer service managers – perhaps more firms should be exploring this idea?
Photo by Bob Brown licensed under Creative Commons
Posted in Careers, Contact Centres, Current Affairs, Customer Service
Tagged agent, autonomy, call centre, employee, empowerment, forbes, four seasons, guidelines, hotel, ritz carlton, standards