It wasn’t very long ago that I was shopping for a very specific product and learned that a specialty retail outlet had just what I needed. Three days later, I had an opening in my morning schedule, which made it possible for me to go and pick it up. I called the store to make sure that they were open, no answer…
So, I pulled up their web page. There, in black and white, it stated that they were open for business. In the back of my mind I wondered why they hadn’t answered their phone, but I figured that they must have been helping someone else at that moment.
Without a second thought, I hopped into my car and made the trek to the store. When I arrived, after an hour of driving, I discovered that the store had changed their hours and were closed.
THEY FORGOT TO UPDATE THEIR WEBSITE with their store’s “new” hours.
It cost me two hours of my time and…it cost them too.
The problem was that their organization was not consistent in the way they communicated with me (their customer) across their different communication mediums.
There are a new set of challenges that have emerged that are making it much more difficult for businesses to deliver exceptional customer service. What are the financial implications of delivering award winning customer service? According to Frederick and W. Earl Sasser, “a 5 percent improvement in customer retention can cause an increase in profitability between 25 percent and 85 percent.”
So, what new challenges does your business face?
- Customer contact across your organization’s functional silo
- The disintegration of communication channels
Number 1 is an age-old problem. However, Number 2 is exponentially magnifying Number 1.
Let me explain.
When all we had was a phone, life was simple(r). If you called with a billing question, you would be transferred to the accounting department. Then, they would (hopefully) resolve your issue. The challenge that your business faced back then was continuity on information between those departments (silos).
For example, if you received a special marketing promotion, and the accounting team didn’t know about that promotion, then there would obviously be a breakdown in customer service.
Now, let’s take a look at this problem in today’s context.
Businesses are communicating with their customers via phone….
- Web Chat
- Social Media
- Web Portals
- Corporate Websites
- Social Media
So let’s add today’s twist with yesteryear’s example. If your marketing department sends out a promotion, and your customer decides to ask your company about it… will they get the same response on Facebook as they would by calling?
If this is a challenge that your organization is facing today, here are four tips to get you started.
What you need to start doing today:
- Get the leaders from your main functional (i.e. marketing, sales, accounting, service, etc.) areas of your business in the same room and get them on the same page about providing seamless service and communication to your customers across departments and communication channels (phone, email, web chat, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
- Begin mapping your inter-departmental communication processes and channels.
- If you have a technology gap that is preventing you from effectively delivering your communications across departments and channels, begin building a business case.
- Begin consolidating your organizational information into a searchable central location that allows your employees to access consistent answers across functional areas and communication channels.
Don’t leave your customer’s experience to chance.
–Christopher Dellen (AU MBA Program, class of 2010), Director of Marketing at Communication Products, Inc.
Christopher Dellen is a guest blogger for the AU MBA Program.