Scary Tan and Daniel Rodriguezthe CEO and CMO of simplerespectively have a theory. In their book for 2021: Experience is everythingthey say customer neglect is on the rise and has been for several years.
They believe that neglect occurs when customers feel ignored when they seek help. This can take the form of long wait times for an email response, inability to connect to an agent live via a phone number or live chat facility, long wait times, unanswered messages on social media, and so on.
Plus, they say this sense of neglect has been fueled by the rise of brands like Amazon Prime, Uber, Netflix and DoorDash with their promise of on-demand services and super-fast delivery.
They argue that these brands have changed customer expectations and that we have been conditioned to want everything now or on demand.
According to Simplr’s Researchif brands want to lead their markets and get high marks for their service from consumers, they need to answer emails in less than 15 minutes and respond to live chat requests within 30 seconds.
That’s a terrifyingly high bar.
It raises the bar even higher when you link that level of expectation to online consumer behavior. According to SaleCycleEvenings are the best time for ecommerce sites, with peak buying time Monday through Friday between 8pm and 9pm. However, these peak times are generally long after most customer service teams have signed out and gone home for the day.
Self-service options, such as chatbots, have been used to fill this gap. But many of the bots on offer are not prepared for more than simple questions from customers. Tan and Rodriguez’s Research suggests that in reality chatbots only answer between 10-20% of all customer questions, leaving more than 80% of all customers with questions feeling neglected.
Tan and Rodriguez believe that this gap can be filled by deploying a flexible, freelance and connected network of experts, powered by intelligent technology, to assist customers during peak hours, after hours and on weekends.
Unsurprisingly, this comes from two technology company leaders who want to do just that while disrupting the Contact Center space and the traditional service model.
But I think they are right.
They’re right that adding a distributed network of experts, powered by intelligent technology, to your service and experience mix brings many benefits, including being able to better respond to changing customer behavior and demand patterns. This, in turn, will contribute to better customer and business outcomes.
One thing about their theory worries me, though, and that’s the idea that brands can’t control their customers’ expectations.
That is not strictly true.
Customers will indeed transfer their expectations to a brand from elsewhere. But they will only do this if they are not branded and then managed.
For example, if a brand says it will respond to messages within 2 hours, that’s the reference point their customers will use when measuring their performance. It is also the service offer that they make to the customer in response to their demand.
What is alarming, however, is the number of brands failing to meet customer expectations. Hence the nascent neglect, I guess.
That mistake doesn’t help the brand and leaves many customers disappointed.