#1 Posted: 15 Jun 2012 11:49
Among all the strategies for delivering amazing customer service, one of the most powerful is quick response.
Customers want it, and they want it now — no matter what "it" is. Over time, customers have become programmed to expect things fast, and now they become impatient if they have to wait. Quick response is essential to survival in today's business world.
Advances in technology contribute to the increasing speed customers have come to expect. Years ago, when you purchased items from a grocery store, a cashier had to manually enter the price of each item in to the cash register. Now, the products are passed over a scanner and the prices are calculated automatically. A customer checks out faster, the lines move faster, and we keep gaining speed.
In the early 1980's I ordered a piece of Kluge luggage that I saw advertised in a magazine. The offer told me to expect four to six weeks for delivery, but the luggage arrived in only three weeks. I was impressed. That was fast.
A company whose name has become synonymous with speed is Federal Express. People use the term "Fed-Ex" as a verb when they are describing quick delivery ... even if they are sending a parcel via UPS or the U.S. Post Office, or some other company. The company's defining slogan, "when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight," set it apart as an influential purveyor of speed.
So with customers conditioned to expect speed, it is essential to apply it to customer service. Speed can build confidence and add value and a competitive advantage.
What are some customer service areas that companies can focus on to boost speed?
One obvious area is a long wait to talk to a customer service representative over the phone. Is there anyone who enjoys being on hold? Some companies try to make the best of the situation. Southwest Airlines, for example, once had a humorous recording that told customers on hold to make a reservation to not hang up as they would go to the back of the line.
An even more proactive approach in which some companies invested was technology that would automatically call customers back in the order that they called. No longer did they have that dreaded time of being "on hold" for a service rep.
Instant messaging systems built into a company's website can now allow customers to "chat" online in real time with customer service representatives — typing questions and receiving immediate answers.
A new company called Zingaya is taking that a step further. It enables instant chat with voice technology through the computer. If your computer is equipped with a microphone and speakers (most are today), with a simple mouse click you can bypass the typing of questions and answers and have a vocal conversation with a customer service rep through the computer.
It all goes back to speed. People want what they want and they want it fast — whether it be part of the sales process or customer service — and they are willing to pay for it.
Offer customers the option of paying extra to upgrade from regular shipping to next-day. Respond quickly in all ways that you can. Customers will appreciate it, and it will reflect in increased business.
Think of yourself as the customer. Would you choose a company that costs a little more if it guaranteed that you wouldn't have to wait on hold for customer service? How about a repairman who promises to arrive within an hour after receiving a service call?
After looking at it from both sides, how quickly will you respond to a customer's call or email? How long (or short) a time will you let them wait? Fast is good, and instant is even better. Speed can separate you from the pack in terms of customer service. And, often, customers recognize the added value and are willing to pay for it.