Customer Service: Mind the Gap
- I'm sorry, this customer service line is only for our online customers. You'll have to go back to the store where you had the problem.
- Excuse me? Oh, no, you can't lodge a complaint here. You'll have to call the store.
There's nothing today's customer dislikes more than falling into the gap between a company's online and offline operations. Feeling stranded, abandoned and disrespected, even previously loyal customers start looking elsewhere when channel conflict gets in the way of their needs. Customers want a coherent, seamless and positive experience — not your conflict.
Multiple channels mean multiple opportunities. With conscious outward attention to the customer's experience, they are opportunities for engaging, involving and otherwise building strong emotional ties. With a less-than-conscious focus on customers, channels can give them many reasons to slip away to the competition, sometimes quietly and sometimes loudly. At any rate, ex-customers leave trails of negative word-of-mouth behind forever.
Empower the customer to be in charge of the conversation. Every touchpoint — web, store, call center, fax, chat, social media and in-home installation — offers a chance to build your brand and create the emotional attachment called loyalty. And loyalty transforms economics.
Invest in Relationships
It costs five to 30 times more time, money and energy to get new customers than it does to keep the ones you already have happy. Companies that closely analyze their customer economics understand that investing in customer relationships is where the payback is.
Dick Nelson, CEO of Marco Promotional Products, a B-to-B seller of promotional products, makes it a point to focus employees on delighting customers by encouraging everyone to call first-time buyers "testers."
Customers often test you — these days in particular. Once they experience the "one-click" checkout at Amazon, for instance, the bank that stays open all weekend or the free shipping both ways at Zappos — not to mention the contagious happiness of Zappos' staff — it's hard for consumers to settle for less.