A common but potentially fatal flaw for any service based business it to mistake their customer experience for customer service itself. Admittedly, I think we’ve all been guilty of this before–I know I have. Of course, it’s recognizing this flaw and turning it around that can make all the difference.
With the focus for many organizations being zeroed in on employee training and improvement practices around customer service that’s offered, many businesses miss the point of a bad experience in the first place. In this scenario, the majority of resources a business has for customer service are spent on ensuring that each touchpoint during the customer’s journey creates an exceptional service experience. It’s a great tactic, but it certainly does not guarantee you have a happy customer at the end of the journey. After all, if the process of obtaining, using, or troubleshooting a service or product is faulty, the customer experience may still be a negative one despite ideal customer service.
Customer expectations are binary. You either exceed them, or you fall short. Similarly, if you’re trying to keep up with increasing consumer expectations, you’re fighting an uphill battle.
Amazon, no longer a small online bookstore by any measure, knows this. Their objective isn’t to meet expectations. Rather, their objective is to exceed customer expectations such that customer expectations increase by way of the service they provide. Scot Wingo, Co-Founder of Channel Advisor, calls this increasing customer expectation the “Amazon Effect.
The unprecedented expansion of markets into an online space has changed up the customer journey. That means that is has never been more important to connect with your potential customers on their terms– but for your sake, it should be done in a way that capitalizes on their established behaviors. Sound complicated? It’s not in today’s tech savvy world.
Tracking customers by location used to seem a bit invasive, but with new possibilities of providing better service or incentives, customers are warming up to the idea of sharing more with companies. Companies are using location awareness to accomplish all sorts of enhancements from knowing when a customer has arrived, to helping them navigate a complicated building.
Whatever your industry, excellent customer service is an essential element in gaining customers. You also need great customer service to retain those customers and improve your brand’s positioning in your industry. It’s no longer enough to just ensure that our staff members are well trained in technology, data, and general analytics. To be effective, your customer service must anticipate your customer’s needs and ultimately create an experience that is as valuable to them as the product or service you’re offering to them. It’s all part of what ensures a seamless customer journey.
This is the fifth blogpost in a nine post series (originally published by IBM) focused on the intersection of customer experience and technology, data and analytics. This post covers the Second R of responsiveness and the importance of reducing waiting.
Someone once said we spend 10% of our lives waiting. We’re certain it’s true because we once read it on the Internet. In all seriousness, waiting is a fact of life. It’s an irritating and annoying fact of being a customer. One of the most impactful ways companies are using technology is to help their customers wait less or, when waiting can’t be avoided, help the time pass more quickly.
Case Study: Applebee’s
Many companies are embracing the self-service trend. Julia Stewart, CEO of Applebee’s, says, “Customers have been telling us for some time—even myself … I don’t like to wait for the check. That was the first sort of pain point we heard of, and we had this unique opportunity with technology to make a real difference.”
Based on a successful pilot, Applebees bought 100,000 tablets for its restaurant tables. The results show 70% of tables using the tablets. Additionally, appetizer orders increased by 20% and dessert orders by 30%. Tables turned quicker and the kids can play games on the tablet while waiting for their food. This is a win-win scenario as customers are leaving faster, more satisfied and with a higher check total, which the restaurant chain profits from.
Looking to recent survey numbers, these results should come as no surprise. “Almost a quarter of all millennials use self-service kiosks to avoid any sort of interaction with cashiers,” according to Retale president Pat Dermody.
Case Study: First Tennessee Bank
Founded in 1864 and headquartered in Memphis, First Tennessee Bank (FTB) is a leading financial services company. Serving more than 460,000 households across the State, the bank offers a range of retail banking services including checking accounts, mortgages and insurance.
To achieve its goal of doubling annual sales of online accounts by 2019, FTB needed to reduce waiting and give customers a smoother journey through the account sign-up process. FTB implemented IBM Digital Analytics to capture, monitor and analyze real-world customer behavior on its website and mobile app, and identify opportunities for improving the user experience. More user-friendly online and mobile journeys drive more customers to complete the account sign-up process. Ongoing monitoring helps to continuously assess and improve the user experience.
Takeaway: The lesson is clear. Any investment that reduces the wait time will equal happier customers who will ultimately spend more and return time and time again. Don’t fall into the trap of the way you’ve always done things. While new technologies can cause growing pains, customers’ expectations are always increasing and you must use every tool in your arsenal to get ahead of the curve.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – According to Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part:
The rate of innovation is ever increasing. What would seem like a giant leap fifty years ago appears more like a small step today. Second, these innovations are changing the average consumer. Going from the world where connected technology was mostly a dream to such ubiquity where more humans have mobile phones than access to working toilets is nothing short of impressive.
This is the final installment of amazing technological advances over the last sixty years. As you can see, our society (and the world) has come a very long way in just a short time. I, for one, am very excited to see what kind of tech advances will come to us down the road.
2004 – 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg launches thefacebook.com in his dorm room as a Harvard sophomore.
2005 – YouTube is founded by former PayPal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. The idea was born at a dinner party in San Francisco the year before, inspired by two key events that year: Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl and a devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
Don’t get caught up in thinking that customer relationship management is just for those big box store brands. As it stands, managing the relationship you have with customers can make or break your business. If you’re a business owner, an entrepreneur, or something in between, I’m willing to bet that you’re wanting your business to succeed–and customer relationship management is key. Sure you can invest in expensive CRM software, but remember that all the software in the word can’t take the place of YOU.
The series continues! There have been some amazing technological advances over the last sixty years. Today, we take a look at some of the biggest tech advances since 1995.
1995 – Google begins as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Both are Ph.D. students at Stanford University.
1999 – Kevin Ashton coins the term “the Internet of Things” (IoT) while working at Auto-ID Labs.Oracle executive Marc Benioff invites three friends to his San Francisco apartment. His business idea gets a lukewarm response. Cofounder Dave Moellenhoff doesn’t sugarcoat it, “You’re an idiot. That’s the stupidest thing. This is never going to work.” The group presses forward and launches Salesforce, one of the first enterprise cloud software services in the world. The company pioneered the concept of delivering enterprise applications via a simple website.