Like so much in life, you do not realise just how much you took it for granted until it disappeared. I am talking about the customer or more specifically, the customer on your premises.
At one time we really did think nothing of the time that they spent with us. Why did it matter if they had to queue for ages or even that they more or less had to fight to get our attention? This is one of the more hidden but important changes that we can thank the digital revolution for. The internet means that many services that once had to be delivered through direct contact now have an on-line equivalent. In many ways, this is a great thing for both parties.
The customer can get access from home or work while we can deliver our services without the massive costs of local premises and staff. However, and there has to be a however, in every story, losing direct contact means more than that.
Zendesk recently commissioned research to explore customer service attitudes and behaviors among 7,000 consumers across seven countries (Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, UK, US). One result of that survey is that 73% think brands pay more attention to generating sales across multiple channels than they do to providing a seamless, integrated customer service experience.
When our customers and we meet vis-a-vis, as our French cousins would say, we open up opportunities that are lost in the remote and virtual worlds. Only when there is physical contact do you get the level of focus and attention. Only then do you get to spot absolutely every opportunity and get the chance to make a truly full and complete assessment.
What the internet has taught us is that you do not have to meet all the time but that when you do you need to take full advantage of it. You have to maximise the opportunity. This ensures a healthy, committed and fruitful relationship. In short, this is about time. While the customer is on your premises, you need to value every moment because that time defines your opportunity and as the customer can now see alternative ways of accessing those services you need to value their time as well. You need them to feel that time in your presence is time well spent.
Having a customer on your premises is the greatest opportunity for your business - just as real friends are the ones that get invited to your house, the relationship you have with customers is the greatest when they your premises.
So what happens when a customer visits? Have you walked it through? How many different types of visit are there? Have you thought about how your own knowledge prevents you from seeing the experience through their eyes?
Two things can happen; either you have not thought it through – and then that crucial physical touch point can destroy the whole perception of your brand. Or, you are able to manage the whole journey in a consistent way providing an enjoyable, smooth and effective on-location experience. It’s up to you.