After years of anticipation the NBN has finally arrived in my area!
Feeling excited for the possibilities, I rang a provider that I’d heard offered NBN WiFi. After carefully navigating the options, I pressed 1 for sales and was politely informed by the announcement the estimated wait time was one minute. Easy!
Eventually after what seemed an eternity, a very bored sounding woman answered, and said something that was indecipherable to me. Could have been her name?
I explained to this anonymous person (AP) that we have NBN but no phone lines to our house, and asked what options were available for connecting to a wireless solution.
This is how the conversation went downhill from there, and how it could have gone.
AP: Before I take your address, I need some details. What’s your name?
(I could tell by the robotic way she was asking that was entering the details into the computer and was about to ask for my contact details too)
Me: Why do you need my contact details? I’m just making an enquiry.
AP: Because it’s our policy to get contact details and log all calls that come in.
Me: And it’s my policy not to give my contact details when just I’m making an enquiry.
(By now I was feeling irritated)
AP: Um, Ah, OK then.
I proceeded to give my address so she could look up my options.
AP: You can have fibre at the node. (pause)
Me: (feeling confused) What does that mean? I don’t understand that terminology
AP: (sounding defensive) I was just about to explain! (offers some vague explanation that I still didn’t understand)
Me: So does that mean I will need phone lines coming to my house?
Me: (feeling annoyed) But I just told you I don’t have lines coming to my house.
The conversation continued to go around in circles with half explanations and over explanations that made me feel like I just wanted to hang up and never go near that company again.
AP succeeded it pushing me away by making it too hard for me to understand the information. She didn’t listen and showed no interest in me or my needs.
I was a golden opportunity that had fallen in her lap. She could have profited from that opportunity by building rapport and engaging me. By smiling, speaking clearly, listening well and asking the right questions to discover my needs, and then giving me the information that was relevant.
That business made it difficult for me to do business with them. Business is tough out there and with all the advertising and marketing that businesses do to get new customers, and then allowing someone of AP’s limited interpersonal skills to answer important sales calls, they were doing themselves a huge disservice.
Recent research has revealed that the #1 most important factor in customer retention and loyalty is reduction of customer effort. And these days it’s all about custom-isation of the custom-er experience. There is so much choice at our fingertips, that customers are demanding products and services that meet and benefit their particular needs, with the least effort involved. They want effort-less.
Customers hold the trump card and if it becomes too much effort, they will move on to another provider until they find the one that makes it easy for them.
So how can you customise your customer experience so that your customers feel cared about, valued and important?
This could be your business, so let’s rewind and explore how that conversation could have gone.
Firstly, she would answer with a smile and welcoming, upbeat tone of voice, giving her name clearly. (let’s call her Michelle).
I would make my enquiry.
AP: Certainly, I can help you with that. Firstly, may I ask your name please?
Me: Sure, it’s Ava.
AP: Great, thanks Ava. So I can find the best solution for you, may I just check a few details?
Me: (feeling reassured that I’d contacted the right company) Sure, thanks Michelle.
She would have then paraphrased what I had already told her to confirm her understanding and indicate to me that she was listening, then proceeded to ask me relevant questions to further discover my needs.
Rapport would have started to build as I developed trust in her abilities and felt that she cared about me. As she was the voice of the company, that feeling would have extended to the whole company, as I felt that they would look after me through the good and the bad. I could easily have become a raving fan and gifted them free marketing by telling others about my great experience and posting 5-star reviews online.
It doesn’t take much to make or break a customer’s attitude and turn them into a defector before they’ve even done business with you. In this new age of the customer experience economy where customers are king, customer service can no longer be ignored by businesses. It must be front and centre of your organisation, as a key marketing strategy, and a priority focus for customer interaction and retention. Customer service is a key differentiator in business and is always handsomely rewarded with customer loyalty, raving fans, and ultimately increased profit.
By the way if there’s anyone out there who can help me make sense of this NBN jungle, I’d love to hear from you!