Customer Service is About Expectations
I’ve spent my career working in several diverse industries. From the oil fields, through new home sales, new home construction, real estate sales, mortgages, and insurance. The common thread that binds all of my experiences together is the human customer service experiences of each industry.
In every case, customers had the same desire, to have their concerns addressed. If they had a problem, they wanted their problem fixed.
Today, customers have even higher expectations. Because they have experienced good service. Now customers know what good service looks like and they expect it. Your Customers are comparing you to the best service they have ever received, from anyone.
That’s why the customer service baseline has been set higher than ever. You have to find a way to separate yourself from your competition. Because your competition is also trying to out-service you.
I have discovered how you can beat your competition. Your company has to be customer focused rather than operations focused. This concept is being embraced by successful companies to disrupt their competition and even entire industries.
The Secret to Success is Convenience
The secret of providing great customer service is Convenience. You have to find a way to make your customer’s life easier. Or find a way to be easier to do business with.
Doing that you will add a new level to your customer experience. Providing a better CX will draw customers away from your competition. How can you do that? I can teach you.
I have discovered the Convenience Principles that successful companies use to set themselves apart from their competition. The principles include: reduce friction, self-service, technology, subscription, delivery, and access.
Let’s examine each one and look at examples of specific companies applying these principles to their business models.
Convenience Reduces Friction
Not since radios were installed in taxicabs has there been an industry-wide change that had such an impact on customer service. Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft burst onto the scene and everything changed.
Today if you need a ride, you open your phone app. You input your destination. The app tells you how far away your driver is and how much the trip is going to cost.
When the car shows up, the driver even knows your name. When you’re delivered to your destination, you don’t reach into your pocket for money or a credit card.
Since you’re already in the system, payment is automatic. The driver’s payment is deposited directly into his account by the company. Rideshare companies changed the entire industry!
Self-Service is Convenient
Self-service sounds like it’s making your customers work more and harder. However, that’s not actually how customers feel about using an available self-service option. Depending on the situation your customers might like having a choice.
When I go to my local Panera Bread, you have choices. You can go to the counter and have human contact with a friendly employee. Or you can order and pay for your meal at a kiosk.
Panera has been streamlining its customer service process even further. Now, after placing your order at a kiosk you are given a pager, then you simply take your seat at a table.
The tables have sensors built into them. When your order is ready, the server brings your food to you. When I asked my local Panera manager why they made the change. His answer was simple and direct, “Because it’s more convenient for our guests.”
Technology Creates Convenience
Today an obvious way for companies to create more convenience is by adopting new technology advances. When you provide your customers with an app or website, you are giving them more options. More ways for them to connect, get information or even make purchases.
One of my favorite apps is the NoWait app. NoWait allows restaurant customers to remotely put their name on a restaurant’s waiting list. While waiting, you can actually watch your name move up the list. This allows you to time your arrival so when you get to the restaurant, there is … No Wait.
Subscriptions Provide Convenience
Subscription services have gone from just being for magazines and newspapers. Today they include all kinds of products and services. Amazon, the leader in convenience, offers a subscription service for many consumable products. Annual maintenance contracts are a form of a subscription model.
Instead of purchasing air conditioning filters or refrigerator water filters at your local hardware store. You can now have them delivered automatically as you need them. When they arrive it’s your reminder to change them.
Netflix revolutionized the video industry by offering a subscription that made it easier than driving back and forth to the video store.
Delivery is Convenient
I grew up when milk was one of the few products delivered to your home. Delivered early in the morning and placed in the insulated box on your porch. Today many companies are seeing the benefit of taking their product or service directly to the customer.
Delivery has gone beyond shipping a product to your customer’s home or office. Even service-based businesses have begun to offer mobile options. I frequently see car detailers or pet groomers parked at a neighbors’ home. Bringing their service to the customer, making life easier.
Access Is About Convenience
Are you available where and when your customers need you? If you’re not, you face some stiff competition. Websites are available 24/7.
Walmarts are everywhere, it’s reported that 90 percent of U.S. residents live within 10 minutes of a Walmart. Think about your location and hours of operation. Are they designed to be convenient for your customers, or for you?
Could you disrupt your competition by offering nighttime or weekend hours? My bank has extended daily and weekend hours.
Convenience is a Competitive Business Weapon
Convenience can be the most powerful competitive business weapon in your arsenal. Hundreds of companies have embraced the Convenience Principles to create a more convenient customer experience. Your choice is quite simple. Your customers will pay more for convenience.
They’ll choose to do more business with people and companies that make their lives easier. Select one or more of the Convenience Principles that you can work on. Find ways to be more convenient for your customers and you’ll disrupt your competition and create fierce loyalty in your brand.