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Please Don’t Put Me On Hold

Please Don’t Put Me On Hold

/ Current Issue, Strategy, Customer Experience, Technology
Please Don’t Put Me On Hold

Your customers are not happy waiting while you log in.

Have you ever rung a business to enquire about an order, and after pressing several buttons to speak to the right person, you then get put on hold while the customer service person logs in to a different system to find your information?

Or perhaps you run a business and are increasingly frustrated trying to find the right, up-to-date information. You must log in and search in one of the several systems you’ve had to cobble together to get a semi-workable eCommerce ecosystem for your SMB (small to mid-sized business).

I was very interested in the opinions and thoughts of both consumers and business owners, so I initiated an in-depth research study.

In the past 12 months or more, our survey has extended to hundreds of SMB owners. At the same time, we’ve reviewed the literature and identified some clear consumer likes and dislikes about the eCommerce experience.

I’d like to share some of these with you in this article.

Bring Back the Human Approach

As a business owner like many of you, and ultimately responsible for customer success, I know our shared goal is to attract and retain a loyal group of customers. I believe it is a superpower of SMBs to be closely connected to customers and provide a personal human experience.

Unfortunately, I know we sometimes fall into the trap of trying to play the same game as the big corporations. They have more resources, they can buy better, so that is a game we can’t win.

While I believe we should look for efficiencies that can come from using technology to support your team in delivering that experience, we also must bring the human approach back into our customer relationships.

...when a person runs into an issue they want to resolve...they want to deal with another person.

All the research is telling us that eCommerce has not delivered on the promised cost efficiencies and labor savings. Customers are frustrated with businesses that are unable to give them simple, quick responses on the status of their orders, how their service enquiries are going, or when [their items] are expected to arrive.

Forbes states that 86% of customers prefer humans to chatbots and 85% of consumers will abandon a call after reaching an auto attendant. And according to Consumer Reports, 75% of consumers surveyed said that they are highly annoyed when they cannot get a live person on the phone at a business.

I’d like to expand on the topic of customer service a little more. We can see from the above that customers prefer to be serviced by real people. Yet they are happy to deal with an online form during the purchase process.

The difference is, when a person runs into an issue they want to resolve - perhaps a late delivery, or an incorrect invoice, or perhaps even a change of mind, or a return of goods - they want to deal with another person. I think most of us still feel that a two-way conversation with a real human who can offer timely and real solutions to an issue is our preferred way to operate.

You only must review the statistics above to see that this is true. I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustration of trying to get in touch with a real person on the phone at some stage. I’m equally sure you’ve witnessed a frustrated customer in a retail setting who isn’t getting served fast enough or perhaps their issue isn’t being resolved.

It is simple, if your business can afford staff, the priority positions to put them in are customer service positions. When technology fails, you don’t want people who focus on finding the tech solution, you want people who can offer a personal service to the upset customer and service them and provide solutions.

Mapping Out the Customer Journey

A useful exercise you can do in your business is to map out all the potential points of contact you have with your customers from when they purchase to payment to fulfillment to repeat purchases and so on. Mapping out your customer journey, you can set yourself some goals about how you want the customer to feel and what you want to deliver at each stage.

A typical customer journey, involving your business, might include:

  • The first visit to a website.
  • An enquiry about a product.
  • A quote step.
  • Acceptance of the quote.
  • Agreement and payment.
  • Delivery scheduling.
  • Product or service delivered.
  • Checking with customers on delivery.
  • Surveying customers for feedback.
  • Handling any issues.
  • Follow up on issues that have been handled.
  • Review by a customer.
  • Repeat purchase by a customer.
  • Referral of a friend or colleague by the customer.
  • Thank you message to the client for the referral.

An example I’ve seen is of an electrical contractor that delineated 24 specific points in the customer journey. This company has a bold statement of the experience they want to engender in the customer at each step. As a result, I understand from my conversations and research that their growth is phenomenal.

This contractor is with its customers every step of the way. They are focused on a great experience from a commitment to arrive five minutes early to every appointment, to taking off their shoes before entering a house, and to cleaning up after their work is done. You can do this in the real world or the online world. You just have to decide what your goal is for the customer.

It is the superpower of SMBs to be close to their customers. If you can’t provide personalized, human service, you are no better than the large faceless corporations. The ones that demonstrate they don’t care about customers every day of the week with automated messaging, hidden contact details on websites, and a consistent approach towards reducing the levels of personal, human service they offer.

The Customer Commerce Approach

Online commerce is growing every day. Consumers are happy to buy online. It isn’t difficult to buy online with all the options available for online shopping carts.

Take back your rightful place as a great service organization, and you will experience the benefits of happy, serviced, and satisfied customers. Let them buy online, but make sure you can help them when they need it.

How can your SMB release your staff from having to focus on making your various finance, operations, marketing, and logistics systems talk to each other?

How can you return to being a customer focused service organization?

Let them buy online, but make sure you can help them when they need it.

The answer lies in the new direction that online commerce is taking. I have coined a term for this new approach: Customer Commerce.

What features or approaches characterize this new type of commerce?

Customer Commerce systems are all-in-one. Everything the cash-strapped SMB needs to attract, secure, transact, service, deliver, and support their customers from the start to the finish.

Customer Commerce integrates CRM, CMS, POST, real-time inventory, and multiple sales channels for a seamless customer experience (CX).

The result for SMBs like yours will be more loyal customers who spend more, and who stay with you for longer. You can’t afford to cobble multiple systems together any longer. You need the type of system that does it all in one place.

Stop putting your customers on hold or asking them to wait while you log into another system. Instead, answer their queries quickly and effectively, make more profits, and watch their satisfaction levels soar.

Your customer service people or the call center have been taking the heat for a long time due to the failings of eCommerce.

...answer their queries quickly and effectively, make more profits, and watch their satisfaction levels soar.

As someone who has invested a lot of time in understanding the dynamics between SMBs and their customers, I believe it is time to move your business to Customer Commerce. And give your call center team and other customer service personnel the gift of once again enjoying their human interactions with your customers.

Mikel Lindsaar

Mikel Lindsaar

Mikel Lindsaar is the CEO and Founder of StoreConnect, a Salesforce Partner Innovation Award Recipient. StoreConnect helps SMBs become scalable customer companies powered by Salesforce. StoreConnect eliminates the need for multiple SaaS systems and plugins, offering a seamless and scalable solution. StoreConnect allows businesses to grow without the need to replatform.

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