Back in the day when writing a letter of complaint to a customer service centre was still the best way to get a response, how quickly did you expect to get a reply from the company you reached out to? A reply within 28 days might have been considered acceptable.
But what about when you send an email? It is still quite normal to send an email to a customer service channel and to receive and automated reply thanking you for the message and suggesting that the brand will get back to you ‘within a few days’.
But is this now acceptable in a world where instant help is expected? Customer expectations are changing because of the way various channels to help are all blending into a single omni-channel.
Consider the difference between calling a helpline and tweeting a brand for some help. If a call is placed, answered immediately, and then the caller is on hold waiting for an agent for 5 or 6 minutes before the problem is dealt with in another 5 minutes then the total time to resolve the issue is about 10 minutes.
If a customer tweets the same issue it takes just a few seconds of their time even if the response does not come back for another hour – the time to respond is not seen by the customer as waiting time because they are not sitting on the telephone listening to muzak.
But this expectation that queries will be responded to in minutes and hours, rather than days, has shifted from social media enquiries to email. Email is not analogous to writing a letter any longer – customers expect a response with an answer within an hour.
The very concept of the omni-channel – all service channels blending into one – is that customers must get the same service across all channels that they might expect if they had called for help. And that means brands can no longer consider that a 24-hour response time is good enough.
Photo by Luke Montague licensed under Creative Commons