How quickly your company phone is answered or how quickly your company responds to an e-mail message it receives may not appear to be the most exciting of topics. However it is one of the simplest ways of doing very much better than the competition. That is because most companies do not handle these simple functions well.
When a prospect contacts your company, it is important that they are not left hanging without some acknowledgement. At the least it is a mark of common courtesy and of course they could represent a sizable purchase. Surprisingly, companies often do not put enough effort into making that response. Given the changes on the Internet, this is an even more critical function than before.
Social Media empower customers
Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are the factors that are changing the status of individuals relative to companies. It is now very easy for someone to share with their friends their satisfaction or their disgust with the way they have been treated by a company. People assume that a company will be trying to make sure that their customer experience is satisfactory.
Customers Have A One-To-Many Relationship with Suppliers
Part of the challenge here is that the contact is more important to the prospect or customer since they would like an immediate response. On the other hand, the company may have a large number of people contacting them at the same time. If they lose a small proportion, they may not care. However this is foolish since it is costly to get prospects calling you and this might just be the big one. The prospect’s perception of the time to respond may be much longer than what it actually takes. Nevertheless most people are reasonable and understand that an immediate response is not always possible.
How responsive are suppliers
Unfortunately many companies determine what resources they will provide for responding to prospects by considering what it will cost. That explains why so often you will run into one of the following telephonic responses:
- a busy signal on the telephone
- all our agents are dealing with other customers, please call back
- all our agents are dealing with other customers, the expected wait is 12 minutes.
The ‘Your call is important to us’ that often precedes such messages is almost guaranteed to make you feel even more frustrated.
They would be much better advised to consider alternatives by looking at these from the point-of-view of the prospect. In other words, they should adopt a customer-centric approach. The most important factor here is probably to allow the prospect to be in control of what happens. Offering choices is particularly useful here. Here are some possibilities:
- Contact via a form on the website
- Leaving a telephone number for a call-back
- Chat line
A really customer-savvy company will probably offer all of these.
Timely Responses as part of your USP
The way most company handle their responses is often less than satisfying. If that is true in your market place, then you have a way of standing out from your competitors if you respond to customers as they deserve.
Of course if your competitors all do this well, then it is almost a condition of survival that you should match their performance. Either way it should be a priority function for you to consider.
Timely Resolution or Timely Response
Jay Baer sings from the same hymn-sheet in a recent blog post:
Ultimately, speed wins. The companies that engage customers on Twitter and Facebook within minutes are making a none-too-subtle statement about their embrace of the social telephone and the primacy of the customer. In comparison, slow response or no response produces a decided “meh” vibe.
Danny Brown took issue with this in stating that:
It’s speed of resolution that will really define how successful a company is in social media (or any other business medium).
However if you check through his article, you will find the following:
If you’re a brand, make it clear on every single customer touch-point what your practice is for issues and queries:
- Standard customer service issues will have a response within 24 hours.
- Identified escalated issues will have a response within 12 hours.
- Emergency issues or concerns that have health implications will have a response within the hour.
Make it clear too, that a response is not the same as a resolution. Offer timescales for internal procedures to let customers know that, to get the answer they need to really resolve the issue, the process involves X departments and Y amount of days, to get to Z resolution options.
So even though he is emphasizing the speed of resolution as the ultimate decider, he is still requiring that the customer should receive a timely reply indicating that action is being taken.
That is exactly what we are suggesting here. Unfortunately many companies may reply in a very tardy fashion or not at all. This is the fastest way to show the lack of competence of your company. Instead make sure that customers sing the praises of your timely responses. It’s the best promotion you can have.
Related: Rapid Response – When is it needed?