Take a moment to think about the most important thing you have to do today. On a weekday, the chances are it’s something to do with an impending work deadline; perhaps its conducting a job interview or performing your best at an important meeting. On a weekend, it might be a family commitment, friend’s birthday, or possibly just making sure you get to the pub as early as is socially acceptable.
You’d have to have an uncharacteristically clear schedule for the most important thing in your day to be a conversation to schedule a home installation.
Yet that is exactly the assumption that a company makes when it contacts a customer via an outbound call centre. Effectively that company is saying to its customers: “Halt what you’re doing. Stop checking your meeting agenda or writing the birthday card. Put down the beer and chat to us instead.”
“We are your priority for the next few minutes.”
This is the first problem with the way installations are currently conducted. As a consumer, once you have given your money to a company, you expect excellent service to be in their hands. You’ve done your bit by paying and, as far as you are concerned, that’s where your part of the deal ends.
It’s a humbling thing to accept, but for all the hard work that goes into a company’s branding, company values and marketing, once someone has paid, seamless and effortless customer experience is their biggest priority.
Too many companies are guilty of being easy to buy from but challenging when it comes to receiving what you’ve paid for and inflexible customer communication is to blame.
Until recently, call centres have been the most convenient way to reach your customers on your own terms. You can work methodically through your call list and calculate exactly how many people and hours you need to do so. But the proliferation of digital communication methods in recent years has resulted in customers expecting, and becoming used to, being contacted on their own terms.
If you are not doing that, then you are competing directly with their more pressing priorities. No matter how exciting the delivery is, you can’t assume it will come above work, family or friends. No wonder that the average outbound call centre has a success rate of 25%. You have to catch your customer at the exact moment that their schedule is free, which is a rare thing in today’s fast-paced world.
Yet if you can send a personalised message on a consumer's channel of choice, at the right time, then you are working with their schedule rather than against it and their experience will be all the better for it.
In the modern economy, customer experience is your greatest marketing tool. The companies that do it well will pull ahead, while ones that don’t will fall behind. Don’t expect to be the centre of your customers’ universe, put them at the centre of yours.