Fast Company

When did my customers change?

Are you listening to your customers (including their complaints)? Some companies despise their problem customers and wish they would go away. Companies changing the game of customer service are listening to their customers and providing innovative ways to serve them. Your customers are sophisticated and demand more from your products and services. These multi-channel customers are combining the best interaction experiences from every place they go and expecting you to provide it too.

Customers use Amazon.com because they are able to place their order, pay for their order, track their order, inquire about their order and review their order history. In addition, Amazon.com provides recommendations based on a customers’ buying history. When this customer calls their insurance provider, car dealership, utility company, phone company, etc. they are expecting that these ‘more traditional’ companies provide the same type of information and service like Amazon.com.  And if your customer is having to call to get this type of update - then they will probably be looking for another provider who can deliver this information to them in other ways (on-line, for example).

Ok, I admit it I am a multi-channel consumer. I evaluate products and services based not only on price but seek out those companies that will interact with me the way I prefer. I expect the companies I work with to allow me to set up my account on-line, receive my invoice as an e-bill directly to my bank and be notified via e-mail or text when my payment is due. I only have two companies that send me paper bills and that is because there is no alternative. My life is busy and I check my snail-mail once a week (because most of my mailbox content is junk mail now) – but I am in my e-mail every day. I am in my car a great deal and often stuck in traffic – and that is when I prefer to take care of personal business when I must call. I like the companies that provide me the ability to use an IVR and gain access to my account and who offer all of the same options as their on-line presence does. Even better are those who allow me to access my account using information other than my account number (phone number for example, I mean, who can look at a bill for a 15 digit account number when you are trying to navigate traffic?) Many communities are passing laws forbidding the use of hand-held cell phones while driving (they allow hands-free use) which makes keying-in information for IVR’s today illegal. The solution here is voice enabling the IVR so that commuters can still take advantage of their commute time without requiring the keyboard entry.

You cannot direct every customer to one channel over another, but based on personal preference, your customers will select their preferred method naturally. A word of warning, you cannot be all things to all people – that is why segmentation is important in determining which channel(s) are appropriate.

Companies are finding that through a balance of multiple channels, they are able to reduce costs to service their customers. For example, if someone prefers receiving their bill via e-mail or e-bill, have them opt-out of receiving the expensive paper bill saving you the printing and mailing charges. Likewise, proactive notification via text or e-mail to your customer when their bill is due can help your company manage cash flow. Informational e-mails and text messages as you execute certain steps in your business process informing your customer of status proactively helps reduce the number of inbound calls received by your contact center.

 

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