One of the reasons that smart phones are so popular is that they provide a much better means of getting notified about any number of events, appointments and so on.
Your customers’ desire – if not need – to be notified is a critical aspect of your customer service planning.
In fact, these communications can be an essential difference between lousy or non-existent customer service, and good or even great customer service.
Working in the dark
For example, earlier this week I ordered some large format printing from a local vendor.
I spoke with them on the phone and because their website allows uploading documents, Â I was able to upload the zipped graphics rather than make a 40 minute round trip drive to deliver the files and return to my office.
The vendor’s website said the file was accepted. About 30 minutes later, I hadn’t heard anything from the vendor, so I called them.
They hadn’t received the file and said that it must be “stuck” on the franchise system’s server and that they would surely find it.
At this point, they had my name and number and knew I wanted to get some work done. 3-4 years ago, I would have expected to babysit the job from start to finish because any business could stay open.
Despite having a confirmation from the web server, the file never appeared on their system… or they never looked for it.
Regardless, failure #1 was not following up with me to confirm that they had found it, or that they hadn’t and needed me to re-send it.
Tick, tick, tick
Two days go by. The promised completion date and time arrives without a message, so the natural thing for me to figure is that the job is complete.
45 minutes before closing time on the promised completion date, I call them. No answer.
Historically, they’re on the phone a good bit, so I don’t think much of it. I hop in the car and continue to call every few minutes during the 20 minute drive.
I arrive 10 minutes before the closing time listed on their website – the same closing time painted on the office door.
They’re closed up tight.Â With that 20 minutes wasted, I drive 20 more minutes home, having wasted 40 minutes and accomplished nothing.
I call and leave a message asking what happened, mostly resisting the urge to vent and ask them to call me to make sure my job is done and let me know what times they’ll be open the next day so I can pick up the job materials.
By mid-morning of the next day I’ve heard nothing.
I call. They know nothing about the job or the upload. Turns out some health issues caused early closure the day before, so I can’t really be upset about that…BUT here’s that notify thing.
They could have left a note on the door about the early closure.
They could have left a comment on their phone system about the early closing.
At this point, the notification failures have added up, but the person in charge steps up a notch.
I get the file to them using another means and we make arrangements for pickup. One of their guys is coming to my area later in the day, so we arrange to meet. He will call when he’s close.
He calls, we meet, I get my stuff. All good. Today’s interaction has gone much better because the communication and notification was active and frequent.
What should happen
A few weeks ago, I uploaded a job to Staples’ web print center, which routes print jobs to a store about 20 minutes away.
I received a confirmation email shortly after the upload.
I received another email telling me the job was complete.
That’s how it works every time. And that software is available to any print shop. It isn’t something special that Staples developed.
Remember, customer service is marketing.