Ever since Tom Peters published his seminal book “In the Pursuit of Wow!” back in 1994, providing exceptional customer service has become a part of nearly every company’s playbook.
Firms have fully embraced the idea that making the customer feel special is good for business. Customer service icons like Southwest Airlines have proven this: The company has been on Fortune’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies more than 20 times. Zappos, the popular online shoe retailer, has built its entire brand on go-the-extra-mile customer service. And there are plenty of other companies that have made a name for themselves by treating their customers well. It’s pretty clear that providing an exceptional customer experience has become a pillar in the modern business world.
Yet “exceptional” is not how most of us would describe the type of service we receive from most businesses.
Indeed, the reality is that we rarely get the Zappos treatment when dealing with a business. Even though every company knows the importance of having excellent customer service, very few are actually able to pull off providing a memorable experience.
There are many reasons for this. First of all, it takes a core level, customer-first approach. If the leader of an organization doesn’t espouse this mantra, a superb customer experience is only a pipe dream. Secondly, it’s hard. Even for willing companies, capturing what it takes to make the customer want to stand up and clap is difficult.
But for those companies looking to provide an experience in which their customers say “wow,” there is hope. And it starts with self-service.
LET CUSTOMERS TAKE CONTROL
Self-service is all about empowering your customer. In today’s world, customers want control. They want to be able to research on their own, and they want to do it on their time. They don’t want to have to contact a company just to get an answer to a question.
Allowing a way for customers to accomplish self-service tasks is a great start to providing an outstanding user experience. A recent survey from Forrester found that 76 percent of customers used a company FAQ page for answers in 2014, up from 67 percent in 2012. Research from Microsoft backs this up: 90 percent of consumers expect a brand to offer some sort of self-service.
Beyond FAQ pages and other informational options that can be provided via a website, a trend that’s picking up steam for service-based businesses is online scheduling. It’s a simple way to eliminate a huge pain point for customers — having to call in to book an appointment. For businesses that meet with customers in any capacity — via phone, in-person, or even through online chat — offering online booking is a simple way to start giving customers more control over their experience.
Giving customers the ability to book their own appointments is the online equivalent of self-checkout. No longer do customers have to slosh through the slow-moving process of calling to make, change, and cancel appointments. Instead, they can pull out their computers, tablets, or smartphones and gain control over the booking process.
Online scheduling offers many benefits, but here are two of the most significant ones:
- Online booking meets customers where they already are.
It makes sense — consumers already do everything else online, whether it’s banking, shopping, planning vacations, or simply ordering takeout. Many people’s lives revolve around the internet. That’s why so many people now abhor the inconvenience of having to do things like call to schedule doctor’s appointments.
By providing customers with an option to book appointments online, you’re letting them complete a necessary task in a way that’s convenient for them on a platform they’re already on. They’ll no longer have the hassle of having to call during business hours to schedule their appointment. Plus, they’ll receive email or text message reminders before their appointment, reducing customers’ mental labor for keeping track of their appointments. Having a timely reminder is a welcome nudge in today’s busy world.
To learn the other benefits of online scheduling and find out why you should give self-service a try, please read the full article on CEOWORLD Magazine..