Your small-medium business or nonprofit customers have high expectations when it comes to customer experience and service.

“As connectivity becomes ubiquitous and customers grow used to conversational interactions with brands, immediacy has become vital. In the findings, 64% of consumers and 80% of business buyers said they expect companies to respond to and interact with them in real time.” (Salesforce, “State of the Connected Customer”)

In reality, however, smaller organizations may find that real-time service can be quite challenging. This is especially true when managers and employees wear multiple hats.

That’s why it’s so important to choose the most manageable channels for your customer service program. Responding quickly and efficiently in fewer channels is way better than trying to respond in too many and missing the mark!

The irony of this topic is that many BIG organizations really suck at this. Here are three recent examples:

#1 Example

Last Monday, I sent The Week a message using Facebook Messenger (through its Facebook page) to extend my son’s subscription. I received this automated reply:

Hi, thanks for your message. We are not here at the moment, but we’ll get back to you soon!

On Tuesday, I sent this: “Are you there today?” Not only didn’t I get a reply, it wasn’t marked as seen until Friday! I have yet to hear back a week later!

What’s worse… I finally used a traditional channel and called the customer service telephone number to renew his subscription. Originally, it was a gift subscription from someone else, so the representative advised me to call back closer to the expiry date!! My customer experience grade: F.

#2 Example

I drive an older model Audi that has slowly been wearing. When I discovered that the radio amplifier was shot and needs replacing, I used Audi USA’s online contact form to ask for help.

I completed the form, including my VIN number, requesting the amplifier part number for my car. I didn’t receive a reply, but here’s the email I received within a day:

Thank you for your recent contact with the Audi Customer Experience Center. When you reach out to us for assistance, it is our goal to offer you the experience you expect from Audi of America. Please take a few moments of your time to participate in a 1 minute survey regarding your recent experience with our Representative, [name]. Your feedback is extremely important as it can help improve the quality of the services as well as your experiences with us.

To access the survey, click here: Audi Customer Experience feedback.

So, I completed the two-question survey and here’s the immediate automated reply:

Audi Customer Experience Survey

Thank you for taking the time to complete our Audi Customer Experience Survey. 

Your feedback is extremely important as it can help improve the quality of the services as well as your experiences with us. 

Best Regards,
The Audi Customer Experience Center

Improve the quality of the services????? It was nonexistent!! My customer experience grade: F.

Update: The day after I posted this, I received an email advising me to contact my local Audi dealer. It was well written and empathetic.

#3 Example

I saw a lamp I liked on the Lowes website, but it was unavailable. I tweeted Lowes with this:

“@Lowes When do you expect this item to be in stock? Item # 582264 Model # TL9371D

Five days have now passed with NO reply!

My Two Cents:

As a smaller business or nonprofit organization, you have an advantage over the big guys. You are closer to your customers than they are.

They have many layers and silos of employees, departments, and locations. Even with top-notch technology tools, things can easily fall through the cracks. Whereas, in smaller organizations, there are fewer gatekeepers and customers, so keeping track of inbound digital inquiries and communication can be manageable.

Make it clear to customers which digital channels you use for communications. Email, a website contact form, and specific social media sites are common.

Ensure designated employees are responsible for monitoring your channels regularly. Create a schedule if necessary and evaluate their service as part of performance reviews.

Track customer satisfaction with your responses and resolutions. You may want to include a question on your level of digital customer service in your quantitative surveys, too.

Why is it important to be good at digital customer service?

Seventy-five percent of consumers expect consistent experiences across multiple channels (web, mobile, in-person, social), with 73% likely to switch brands if they don’t get it. Customer loyalty — and attrition — is determined by every experience.” (Salesforce)

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