Back around 1997 or 1998 I was browsing the shelves of a local record store when I heard an older gentleman nearby ask one of the salespeople if they had any Jeff Beck albums. She took a Beck CD—Odelay—from one of the shelves in front of me and handed it to the man.
I didn’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of those two artists’ catalogs (I still don’t), but I knew enough to tell them apart. Before he could buy the CD, I politely told the man that it was Beck Hansen’s and not Jeff Beck’s. He thanked me and took off. I could feel the salesperson staring daggers into my back as I walked out.
This little anecdote came to mind as I was writing a couple of our more recent success stories. Looking back, I could tell that the salesperson was just after a transaction. A soulless and heartless transaction that, as it turned out, wasn’t even built on a knowledge of the product they sold—much less an understanding of the customer’s needs.
Multichannel Service Isn’t Enough
It’s become all the more essential to steer clear of such transactions these days, what with good customer service being of such paramount importance to the continued existence of a business. In fact, according to a recent study by Accenture Strategy, 52 percent of consumers have switched providers in the past year due to poor customer service.
The study goes on to note that while companies are investing more and more into digital front-office capabilities in the belief that this will “ultimately pave the way to profitability,” their assumption is not entirely accurate.
“When companies over-invest in digital front-office capabilities or, conversely under-invest in traditional capabilities, they fail to deliver the optimal channel mix that customers demand and deserve,” says the study. Accenture recommends multichannel customer engagement, instead.
I want to go a bit further and say that even that isn’t enough. What good is multichannel service if it’s not built on a solid foundation of customer knowledge?
The Human Element
Let’s say you have a customer who has an issue with one of the widgets you sell. He called in today, sent an email to your support address yesterday, and sent another email to your own personal work email the day before. Each of these interactions were handled by different members of your support team.
Without a way to track all these interactions, your team members wouldn’t know what happened in the customer conversations that came before. The customer ends up having to repeat him or herself multiple times to multiple people via multiple channels—which is something that a study by Aspect Software says customers hate even more than not receiving any help at all.
Plus, what about companies that are purely digital? Are those businesses that don’t even have actual brick-and-mortar offices doomed to die in a sea of customer dissatisfaction? Of course not. It all comes down to the information your support team has access to and how the team communicates it to your customers.
“That human element is what keeps us connected,” said Permit Place founder Mike Robinson in one of our recent success story posts. “It’s not so much about the technology that we use but about the information that is shared. At the end of the day, it’s still all about people talking to people.”
The Activity History
We’re all familiar with the image of the friendly local store where the owner knows each and every one of his customers, which let him tailor his service to each specific individual. Just because businesses these days sometimes don’t even get to see their clients face to face doesn’t mean that same level of familiarity is impossible to reach.
This is exactly where an activity history—a running record that shows every single interaction you’ve ever had with any customer throughout all stages of the customer lifecycle, all the way from when he or she was an open lead to the last time you provided them with customer support—becomes very important.
Every piece of communication that a multichannel customer has with your team can be recorded and stored in WORKetc’s activity history. Whoever talks to that person next immediately has an entire database of interactions at his or her fingertips.
For example, a customer sends an email to your head of sales about some changes he wants for his website design. Your head of sales immediately attaches it to that customer’s activity record using the WORKetc Gmail widget. When the customer calls a week later asking about why the latest design mockup from your design team has a lot of new changes, your support team can easily refer him back to the email that he may already have forgotten he sent.
Experiences, Not Transactions
There’s a big divide between your support team and your customer online. There’s usually no face to face. There’s no body language or any other nonverbal cues to go on. Knowing exactly what happened before with each and every customer, and being able to bring that pertinent data up with just a couple of clicks, gives your support team that extra oomph needed to truly build a positive and personalized experience for your customers.
Not a transaction. An experience.
It’s not just for digital interactions, either. Let’s say a customer walks into your office and asks about an issue he emailed your team about a few days ago. Whoever he talks to can just open that customer’s activity history in their web browser and quickly find the exact email they sent as well as any further correspondence from your side about the issue.
A member of your widget repair team is out on a service call? They can just fire up the WORKetc mobile app and look up whatever client info is needed. They can see any previous support requests and which troubleshooting steps were already taken so they don’t have to ask the client the exact same questions each and every time.
The location doesn’t matter. As long as you have Internet access, you can check any of your clients’ activity history.
It’s more than just having the technology there to support the proper mindset. Your company needs to actually have that mindset too. If you don’t realise that your customer wants to be treated as more than a dollar figure, they’re not going to be your customers for long.
This post reminds me of a program we had at my job in the 90’s. We had a homegrown system for tracking client activity. The VP always reminded us to document our activity. He would tell us to remember we don’t have customers, we have clients.
“We don’t just sell a product to a customer and wait for them to come back. We nurture our clients because they rely on us. It isn’t just a single transaction, it is a relationship.”
The entire reason I came to this platform was so I could spend time with my customers and not with my systems. We’ve got a ways to go, you, my customers and this software but there is still nothing else that compares to the comprehensive solution WorkETC provides. I tend to offer lots of extra value with my transactions and just today was able to recommend WorkETC to a client to solve a problem they had managing client intake. Win for me when I give a little more, win for them when they get a little more. Win for WorkETC because it made all of that possible.
We’ve always thought of ourselves as a “Boutique” software service that caters to the mom and pop, brick and mortar companies. A close relationship or partnership is crucial. WorkEtc still has plenty of growth in it but it is definitely one of the most important tools that allows us to keep that close relationship with our clients.