Picture this: You just convinced your boss to approve the budget for ten new standing desks for your office -- the ones with electronic buttons so you can adjust the height. The desks arrive quickly, the setup is easy, and although they all go up, one of them doesn't come down. You can't figure it out on your own, so the easiest way to get this fixed is to jump on a phone call.
You follow the prompts on the automated menu and wait patiently on hold for an answer, only to have to spell out your last name and phone number over and over again while the customer support team keeps putting you on hold and passing you between employees who can't solve your problem. After the better part of an hour has elapsed, you hang up -- with the desk now functioning properly, but you're feeling distinctly frustrated by the experience. This used to be considered good customer support. But today, no customer has the patience to put up with this anymore -- and they don't have to. The hard truth is, your customers don't need you like they used to.
People don't need traditional customer service anymore. They can find the answers they need online, and if you can't or won't help them the way they want -- quickly and conversationally, without forcing them to wait on hold -- they know that there's another option out there that will.
Now, when people have an issue, more than half of them start by searching online for the answer. They're on the hunt for the best answer they can find as quickly and easily as they can find it -- regardless whether or not if it comes from you. If they do eventually make it to your website from Google, they don't want to wait on the phone or enter an online queue to get the answer they need. Almost 90% of people are looking for assistance that's more conversational, like live chat.
If they're forced to call your business to get their question answered, more than 70% expect you to know who they are so they don't have to waste time repeating their account number and contact information -- information you should already know. If you're lucky, they'll share a great customer experience with their network -- but if you fail to meet their needs, there's a high likelihood that they'll share their anger on social media.
But it's not just customer service.
People need traditional sales and marketing less, too.
Today, people need your customers more than they need your sales and marketing. People trust the recommendations from their friends and colleagues. In the past, people enjoyed going to a physical store or calling a company "expert" to get advice. But with so much information online today and an easy way to solicit your extended social network, why bother? People trust their network of family and friends 43% more than salespeople and 13% more than advertising because they'd much rather hear from their existing customers. People trust honest, unbiased opinions of people like them, and they read multiple customer reviews before buying anything.
The hard truth about your customers today is:
- They want to help themselves, not call you.
- They learn from friends, not salespeople.
- They trust your customers, not your marketing.
This change has been in motion for a while as new technologies have made it faster and easier for people to get the information they need, and the companies who refuse to adapt to these empowered customers are starting to fail. We read about them weekly on social media -- stories of companies whose old school, me-first attitude is rejected by an empowered consumer who shares a bad experience that goes viral.
It isn't easy for companies to adapt to these new expectations because change is painful. But buried inside the pain of all this change is opportunity. If companies can change and adapt to this new type of customer, they'll grow faster than ever before. The secret to growth in 2018 is an investment in the customer experience, because in a world where customers are in control, happy customers are the biggest opportunity for business growth.
The key to growth in 2018 is:
- Happy customers who recommend your company to their friends
- Successful customers who share their results with the world
- Modern customer support that matches how people communicate
Empower Your Customers and Your Team
The truth is that customers today don't need you as much as they used to, but that's not a bad thing. It presents a huge opportunity for companies to grow their business by helping their customers succeed.
As time goes on, only those companies that offer a great product or service and that invest in providing a superior customer experience will thrive. Whether you're an entrepreneur just getting started, or you run a 20-person support team, there's no time like the present to make an investment in service. It's the secret to growing better in 2018.