As consumers, we’re an impatient bunch.
We expect instant gratification and have trouble waiting four seconds for an online shopping cart to load after we’ve decided to buy something. We’ve become accustomed to shopping online vs. schlepping to a free-standing geographically-located structure (that’s a “store” for you kids out there). We’d rather quickly click some buttons on a laptop instead of calling a help line and stumbling through a phone tree. We want to flip through online documentation while making purchasing decisions, not spend an hour getting a hardcore pitch from a sales rep.
In fairness, we can partly blame technology for giving us the attention span of a fruit fly and, overall, businesses have done and admirable job of keeping pace with our restlessness. They’re getting really good at following us around the internet, ready to fling themselves in front of us the instant we decide to make a purchase or troubleshoot an issue. Meanwhile behind the scenes, companies busily build redundancy-filled fortresses to process and protect customer data.
It’s great to have proactive customer experience strategies in place and it’s critical to safeguard customer data, but the two are not mutually exclusive. It’s vital to take a good look at your customer service channels and treat them with the same importance you give to protecting your databases.
Forrester’s Rachel Dines notes that even the most proactive companies have a bit of a problem with resiliency. They’re so busy planning what to do if backend mechanisms fail that they forget to plan for unexpected customer-facing service slips:
“I’ve found that resiliency initiatives often fail to get momentum because they are so focused on disasters and downtime, and fail to link back to critical business processes and services. …[W]e should be focusing our investments in resiliency on the customer experience. It doesn’t matter if the data center is under 5 feet of water or if someone accidentally deleted a critical file, if the customer experience suffers, we need to have a plan.”
Admittedly, infrastructure overhaul can take months but there’s at least one area you can focus on to get immediate results: Product documentation. Customers must be able to flawlessly and consistently find instant answers on your website to issues that plague them. Not just any answers will do, of course. They have to be useful and, above all, correct. It really doesn’t matter what the product docs have to say about Your Awesome App 2.3 when you’ve just launched v3.1.
Naturally, if you sell a product on your site, a working shopping cart should be your number one priority. Next up on the list must be tight product support so you don’t lose the customers you worked so hard to get. Some studies show that up to 48% of customers will abandon a website if they don’t get a quality response in less than five minutes.
It’s unacceptable to have outdated support docs on your website when implementing a cloud-delivered, self-service help center is so easy. Excellent product documentation is one of the fundamental principles of an excellent overall customer experience and users won’t want to hear a sob story about why a meteor shower interfered with their ability to find the answers they need. When you think about resiliency strategies, don’t forget about how to keep your product support intact. It’s easier — and more important — than you think.
Image: Javier Alvarez