The consumer is waiting for businesses to fit into their life. Not the other way around. For decades businesses have been able to dictate how consumers could go shopping, buy stuff, get services and get help. It really was driven by “the cost to serve”. Seems logical if you are the business owner but not so satisfying if you are the consumer. And even though consumer expectations have been forever changed, it seems that businesses have not kept pace with what great service really could be. Just think about the time when Amazon.com created the true 24-hour retail store twenty years ago, or Uber rides became just a text message away. So, let’s take a moment and talk about what great service is.
Rethinking what great customer service really is
Great customer service means that in one way or another you are meeting and or exceeding expectations. It means showing the customer how important he or she is to you and the business by interacting with them in a friendly, helpful and positive way.
The problem with the traditional definitions is that the standard is a moving target. Some consumer expectations are higher than others and excellence in service could then be unattainable on a broad scale. Then are we chasing Don Quixote’s Impossible Dream? Is it a quest that is in vain? Or is it just that we have been thinking about how to do this in the wrong way?
Might we give a try to think that service is not only what you do for the customer but rather what you enable the customer to do. That is, best in class service starts when we allow the customer to have control, to do things the way that they want, to operate with terms that fit into their life. The single mom, trying to make ends meet, the busy executive looking for spare minutes in the day, the harried student cramming for a test, the millennial with a mobile in their hand all the time.
What they have in common is they think about their lives in terms like simplicity, immediacy, familiarity, impulsiveness, “I need it now”, life-interrupted. And if this is indeed the way that “we” live today then is it time to evolve how we support and service people. The answer is yes and the good news is that there are ways to make this happen:
- Let customers self-serve whenever they want (making sure that the right content is out there, up-to-date, and easily consumable)
- Sponsor a community of consumers who want to share ideas and insights and how to support each other
- Leveraging technology that the consumer is already familiar with to provide access to service
What some people might not realize yet is that there is actually a unifying way to accomplish all of this…
Messaging is poised to become the social fiber of business
…and that is using messaging as the foundation of communication — yes, that thing we do billions of times in our personal life on WhatsApp, Messenger, or iMessage, it is now an enabler of all things customer service. Messaging has become the social fiber of society. We coordinate family dinner through it, we share our latest experiences with friends through it, we ask others for advice through it, … It is now poised to become the social fiber of business. This has happened before – first the phone, then the email, and now the message. It is how we live and how we interact. It is that simple and it is ready to be the next big theme as an enabler for creating excellence in customer service.
So the only question left is will the business model disruptors, like Uber, be the first to seize this opportunity or will it be the established companies. Companies who use messaging as a new and better way to serve their customers. Either way, it will be fun to watch as the consumer will be the beneficiary of doing it their way….with messaging as the basis for excellence in customer service.