Because people just expect it in this world of hyper-connectivity and total instantaneity.
After all…we are all SO connected every minute of every day…we can check our Facebook on a plane…we can track our pizza being delivered…we get alerts when our flight is delayed…UPS tells us when our package is delivered.
People just don’t feel like there is any room for slacking off on customer service…
And if companies DO slack off…then there is only one reason: The company you bought a good or service from…just doesn’t care…doesn’t want to invest in the people, the processes, the tools and the technology to provide the very best in customer service. That’s the perception, and not only is perception reality – but also probably true.
Because if Amazon and Apple and others have taught us anything, it’s that it IS possible to provide a phenomenal customer experience without compromise and win. It’s just a question of will, of prioritization: Making a great customer experience the most important thing there is. The top priority!
Just yesterday I was at an Apple store in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue. There were a million people in the store – I am not exaggerating. I used my Apple Store app to scan my product and read reviews on my iPhone and then to purchase it using my Apple account – all without having to talk to a salesperson or to go to a check out counter.
I could have just put that product in my bag and walked out. And no one would have even KNOWN whether I paid for it or not. It was an amazing experience.
But I did stop and talk to one of those blue T-shirted salespeople and I asked her…what is the philosophy behind letting people scan their own products on the iPhone and pay for them via an Apple account and just walk out of the store without any supervision. Wasn’t Apple worried about stealing? And what did she tell me…? She said:
Apple believes that the benefits of providing the majority of honest people with a transformative customer experience far outweigh the cost of a few people shoplifting. That the company “believes in the power of the virtue” (direct quote) of most people. That those whose intent it was/is to shoplift…will shoplift anyway…so why deny a great customer experience for the rest of us?
Clearly this is the vision of great service. Apple believes that the fruits of investing in a ‘transformative customer experience’ are bountiful: More loyalty. More sales. And more efficiency: no need for all those checkout people – they are roaming the store helping people actually BUY. Using the App, of course!!!
Today TOA Technologies released the 2010 Annual Cost of Waiting Survey. It’s a comprehensive look at the effects of the in-home appointment event on consumers and the businesses that serve them.
There are many interesting things that the survey uncovered – and you can access them all here – but I want to focus on one aspect which I think is particularly fascinating and that’s the effects of waiting on brand equity and what is commonly called Net Promoter Score (NPS). In other words, how people answer the question “How likely is it that you would recommend the company to a friend or colleague?”.
What the survey found is that there is a profound negative effect on brand equity when a company shows up just 15 minutes late. That’s all it takes to change the perception of the customer from a 60% satisfaction rate for on time arrival to only 19% satisfied when reps from your company arrive late. Even if you find a way to overcome the issue of momentary dissatisfaction – the real effect on your brand comes when people were asked the NPS question, i.e. the number of people who would recommend a company to their friends plummets when companies are late to arrive. In fact:
58% of respondents said they would recommend a company with an on-time arrival.
However, if the company is just 15 minutes late the number of respondents who said they would recommend the company drops to just 10%.
What does that mean to you?
So much money is spent on acquiring new customers and so much money is spent on creating, maintaining and growing the brand. Yet all of that can go down the drain in one moment: The moment a customer feels disrespected. Especially with the ephemeral issue of time.
I know from my own experience (that instigated the creation of TOA) - when my time is taken for granted, whether it’s waiting on the phone for more than 3 minutes for a customer service rep to answer or waiting at home for hours for an installation, service or delivery appointment – I am unforgiving in my reaction. And I based on the survey results so are the majority of other consumers. And unforgiving means that these consumers will ultimately leave you when they find the first viable alternative. Even if that is not immediately – they will ultimately leave.
And not only will they leave – they will tell everyone about it. And THAT is the biggest problem of all – because telling people that the virus, and it’s contagious – especially in today’s social media driven world where every consumer has a voice. The consumer is your ultimate marketing machine and they can either work for you or against you. Not only will they take their business elsewhere and but they will spread the word and take many others with them.
What’s clear is that adhering to some very simple ideas and a relatively humble investment, can help keep a lot of customers loyal and help you assure a lot of future revenue for the long term. All you need is make sure that you are focusing on what is most important to your customers – their time and their dignity – and you can win.
"It's About Time" is the blog of TOA Technologies CEO Yuval Brisker. It offers Yuval's thoughts on customer service, customer experience management, mobile workforce management, software and technology, and other musings of a technology company leader.