- How does a customer find out how to contact you? Is it easy to find your contact info—for them to contact you via the channel of their preference, not your preference? If they want to “talk” to someone, can they reach you by phone? If they want to send you something, or know where you are located, do you have an address? Can they find it in one or two clicks, or do they have to find it buried in some obscure corner of your web site? If they have to work at it, you will probably lose them.
- When they call you, can they actually reach you? When people use the phone, they expect, ultimately to speak with a human being. That’s why they are calling in the first place. Do you force them to navigate through endless phone tree to get to the right department, and then how often does that department transfer them somewhere else?
People should be able to talk to the right department in within 2 transfers. Customer are phoning you because they want to talk to you, they want to communicate, they have a question, they need information, they want a human being. Phones were invented for people to talk to each other, not navigate phone trees and leave messages.
Even worse, too many companies will never let the customer get to a human being. The customer is forced to leave a message and wait for a return call. What you are communicating to the customer is, “We don’t care when you want to talk to us, we’ll talk to you when we want to or when we get to you.” But the customer wants to talk to you when they want to talk to you.
- Do you answer your emails? Autoresponders don’t count unless it’s communicating with your customer’s autoresponder. Do you answer them on a timely basis? What timely is, depends on your markets and how your customers want to be engaged. In some a response in minutes is critical. In some a response within 24 hours is satisfactory. I can’t, however, think of a longer acceptable response time. Do you actually “answer” them or do you respond with boiler plate, “Thank you for your email, we appreciate your business, please let us look at your issues and get back to you in a few days…………..”
- Have you ever actually read your content, collateral, case studies, other materials? You should know what your customers are getting and reading. Are you reading it with a “customer’s mindset,” or your mindset? We know what we are intending to communicate, we can read between the lines, bridge the gap in communication, because we know what we intend to communicate. The customer doesn’t, so they can’t read between the lines or bridge the gap, because they don’t know what you are trying to communicate.
- Have you read your proposals? I mean read them through the customer’s eyes and point of view. Again, we know what we are trying to communicate—even though it may not be explicit in the proposal. But the customer can’t read our minds or know what we were intending to communicate, but didn’t write down.
- Have you gone through your manuals, your customer training programs? I have a client that provides a lot of online training to their channel partners. But none of the sales people have ever taken any of the training they expect their partners to take. The channel support people—those who are responsible for supporting the online training system—have never actually used it themselves. They wonder why their customers are confused. Take a course, it’s easy to see.
- Have you ever tried calling your customer support centers and gone through a problem resolution process to see what your customers are experiencing?
- Have you read your contracts, your terms and conditions? Have you read your warranties? Have you read an invoice?