Good customer service doesn’t stop at the transaction. It goes way beyond .. in fact, it’s a continuous dialogue if you are interested in retaining your customer. 

As an avid online shopper I’ve contributed a significant amount of dollars to the sector over the years, having purchased from brand sites and marketplaces across several countries and always looking for the most cost effective solution. I’m generally not an impulse buyer. Yes, I do have some brand loyalty and in that case I can purchase within minutes. However, when I’m looking for a product/service that can be purchased over several medians at different prices, I do my homework. The process goes a little something like this:

  1. Search Google Shopping for the product. Google aggregates some instances of that product which is available for sale online, from both brand stores and marketplaces e.g., directly from Darty or Amazon.
  2. Review  cost comparison, warranty, delivery/shipping and refund terms. 
  3. Review online shop reviews (especially if it’s somewhere I have never bought from before).
  4. Go back and check the Search results from the first and second page as Google Shopping doesn’t capture everything. Very rarely do I go to page 3. The first page of search results can be weighed down by paid or sponsored advertising so a lot of sites are being pushed back to page 2. An entirely different subject but worth the mention.
  5. Walk away from my desktop or phablet and ponder i.e., think of other important items to check up on and search e.g, maybe an upcoming flash sale to take advantage of.
  6. Do the research.
  7. Eventually make a purchase and feel satisfied it was an educated one. No regrets.

So why am I mentioning this?

Because customers put a lot of effort into their shopping process both online and offline and they want to feel they can trust the business they have invested their personal resource in.

And why is it important for businesses to know this?

Because knowing how your customers are reaching you and how they are evaluating their customer experience is pivotal to your acquisition and retention rates and your overall brand position. Businesses need to understand there processes you can put in place to improve the customer experience starting from the point of search through to after sales support. It’s the whole deal. Customer service does not end at the transaction.

You have competition peoples. Just because you send me a cute EDM every day/week, tweet a bit and have a Facebook page, it doesn’t mean I’m going to buy from you repeatedly. In fact, if you are sending me email everyday (SPAM) you are likely in my “delete immediately list”.

On that particular note, find someone to help you understand how digital marketing can really work for your business, and create a social media and content marketing strategy which is relevant to your business. It’s not one size fits all but that is a different post.

How you treat me and how you make me feel makes all the difference.

For those with the ‘smarts’, we understand and care about the customer experience. We know how it correlates to the business’s bottom line. We know it drives revenue and saves cost. We know the value is not just in the sale. The true value is in the customer experience.

One of the most important factors for any business is understanding that customer retention should outweigh customer acquisition since we know there is more profit in retention. That being said, “profit” is not only financial. It’s not always about the dollar. Businesses must start trading with a “human” currency as well.

Customers need to experience all the good “feels”. It’s all about the feels.

If you’re interested in CXM, here’s a few stats hot off the press for 2016 courtesy of Sprinklr (such a good read and hits so many nails on the head – thanks Sprinklr)

Take a few minutes to digest these statistics and then ask yourself – “where does my business stand now, where do I need to be, and how can I improve it”?


Logistics: an example of how a breakdown in process between supplier and courier results in a poor customer experience.

Recently our TV bit the dust, so we did the research and purchased a new unit from the second largest marketplace in France. Largest in terms of unique visitors per month and per day. It’s large, not China stats large, but a hefty visitor presence nonetheless.

  • Order confirmation states the delivery date as 2nd May 2016 between 8am and 2pm. Note it doesn’t say it’s an estimated date, it’s a firm date. We schedule accordingly to ensure we’re home to receive delivery.
    • How does the customer feel – the date sets the customers expectation. With that information comes a sense of trust.
  • On the morning of Thursday 28th April I ran a few errands. I arrived home just before midday and checked the letterbox. I find a delivery slip – “You missed us”. The delivery slip says the package is 12 pounds. Heavy. Can only be the TV.
    • How does the customer feel – Instant disappointment in the validity of the original delivery date. Trust broken.
  • Husband calls the customer service number shown on the delivery slip. It’s automated and costs .18EU a minute.
    • How does the customer feel – Ripped off. The company now wants the customer to pay for the after sales call to follow up on an order that shouldn’t have been delivered yet.
  • The delivery slip doesn’t have any other method of tracking the package and therefore the customer is required to call the number.
    • How does the customer feel –  Extorted. Simple.
  • Husband calls the machine (from his mobile) and waits (Husband is at work and waits considerable time for a human).
    • How does the customer feel – Time is money.
  • Eventually a human arrives and tells him “you weren’t home so we have to reschedule delivery”.
    • How does the customer feel – Thank you for letting me know you were coming earlier, how very courteous and professional of you.
    • Husband “why didn’t you contact me  to advise of early delivery”.
    • Courier “because we don’t have your phone number”.
    • Husband “Why don’t you have our phone number?” 
    • Courier: “Because <insert marketplace name> does not provide us with those details”. 

 

I’m sorry, not good enough.

No doubt many of you have experienced this same situation. Frankly, it’s inexcusable with the level of tech available to us. Information sharing is key.

They had one thing to do, just one. Call.

How many people out there will never order from this company again after this experience? A bucketload. So many thoughts run through my mind:

  • why, why, why is it so hard to make a call? We all have a phone, the stats say so.
  • where was the breakdown? Marketplace > original supplier > courier company?
  • how are their backend systems set up ERP > Warehouse distribution > Courier?
  • did no human being have the common sense to check the customer was home?
  • why don’t they care?
  • so many things can be done to prevent these situations occurring.

I must point out this is not a once off occurrence nor is it specific to this particular marketplace. It happens all the time across bricks and mortar stores, to brand sites, to marketplaces. There is no discrimination when it comes to poor customer service. Another example:

  • On a separate occasion I answered the intercom to a delivery guy and gave him our level details (we live in an apartment building). At the same time, he was on the phone and I heard him tell someone we weren’t home to accept the delivery. I could see him through the camera and he responded to me when I spoke! He left a delivery note in my letterbox instead, which forced me to go to the post office to pick up the package. How very convenient. Poetic since the point of online shopping is to increase convenience.
  • Recently a friend of mine ‘received’ a package from a courier that simply threw it on her driveway, jumped in the car and drove off. Seriously?! Are we that short in cash to put extra drivers on the road to service clients properly, or are these drivers just incapable of fulfilling their duties?

Accountability

Maybe we need to start putting KPI’s in place for courier companies and their drivers to deliver according to the set criteria, e.g., in the letterbox or at the door, not thrown on the driveway. Perhaps we start surveying the delivery drivers – just like we do in Uber. How many Stars and Comment?

We definitely need accountability. We don’t need 10% off our next purchase (but thanks for offering) we need you to step up to the plate and treat us with the respect we deserve, because frankly, that is why your business is still afloat.

On a positive note, our TV was delivered Friday 29th (as they promised). The delivery guy wouldn’t bring the package to the door as he his vehicle was obstructing the traffic in the street. I get that. So I went downstairs and asked him to at least help me get it into the lift.

He did, and he was nice about it. He was friendly and smiley and guess what, it gave me good feels.

 

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