Respect Your Customers’ Time to Improve Their Experience

A mentor once told me, “Time is the most valuable thing someone can give you.” It’s been 15 years since I heard that, but I’ve carried it close to my heart ever since.

This simple statement has become the cornerstone of how I interact with people. Not just those that are very close to me, but also those whom I’ve just met for the first time.

But what does this have to do with any of our usual topics? More than you might realize at first glance.

Despite advancements in CRM systems, most of today’s customer service technology is a bit self-centered. We want to use this technology to learn more about our customers and our interactions with them, ultimately to pursue our own business goals. What this technology often fails to do is respect customers’ time.

If you want to make the most of one-to-one customer relationships, it’s time to find out what R-E-S-P-E-C-T means to customer experience.

We’ve All Been on the Bad End of a Time-Wasting Customer Experience

There’s nothing worse than contacting customer support just to be put on hold and then tell the same story five different times as you try to get your questions answered. Whether it’s changing a flight, returning a damaged item, or anything else, no one wants to waste their time repeating themselves within a support system.

Ben Basche, the Product Marketing Manager here at Layer, told me an especially frustrating story about a customer experience that didn’t respect his time.

He went into his local bank branch for some quarters. When he received a phone call the next day asking how his experience was, it felt a bit intrusive (who would be calling him other than a distant relative?). But he shrugged it off as a nice gesture, although it was a little overboard seeing as how he only went in for some quarters.

The real problem was when he received the same exact call from his bank branch two days later, this time from a different representative. At this point, Ben was just angry. In the middle of a word day, he’s getting a follow-up call for something that was unnecessary in the first place. Ben wondered why the bank couldn’t just send him a push notification with an interactive message asking how the experience was—let him respond and add any additional commentary at his own leisure, not on the bank’s timetable.

If you’ve ever received a disruptive phone call in the middle of the day, you can probably feel Ben’s pain here. Phone calls just aren’t the preferred means of communication anymore. Messaging is the universal experience that customers expect. And if you respect their time, you won’t bother them with unnecessary phone calls that ruin the customer experience (and ultimately hurt your business, anyway).

Before you think this is a quick fix, it’s important to understand that it’s not as simple as implementing messaging or not implementing messaging. Unfortunately, not all chat experiences are created equal.

3 Common Problems with Chat Experiences

The use of “Chat with us” interfaces is finally becoming more common on websites and some native apps. It’s still possible for these experiences to disrespect customer time, though.

Here are three things that I see wrong with chat experiences from many technology companies:

  • Focusing on One-Time Interactions: Many of these experiences are built to be transactional, meaning you lose customer context every time a ticket is closed. Respecting customers’ time means having messaging history at the ready and preparing for repeat interactions in the future.
  • Disconnection with Purchase History: Chat interfaces are often standalone applications thrown on top of a website. This means they aren’t integrated with a customer history database. If you work with a personal stylist one day and talk about your violent hatred for the color pink, you shouldn’t have to go through the same story when you do business in the future.
  • Disregard for Emotions: Poor messaging experiences don’t think about how customer relationships grow over time. Each interaction in the messaging history adds a positive or negative impression of your brand. The goal of a messaging experience should be to make all of these impressions positive.

These are just a few things to think about when it comes to designing the perfect customer conversation. But if your driving motivation is to respect customers’ time, you’re likely to stay on the right customer experience path.

Let Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day be a Lesson to You

It would be a mistake to dive deep into the nuances of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day performance, but bear with me for a second. The movie never explicitly explains why Murray ends up in a time loop, but it seems like the driving factor is his disrespect for Rita Hanson’s interest in Groundhog Day.

Even when Murray embraces Groundhog Day in the end, he still can’t break the time loop. The only way he can make history stop repeating itself is to respect Hanson and her time spent on the Groundhog Day feature.

If you’re constantly tweaking your business model but continue to disrespect customers’ time, your customer experience history is doomed to repeat itself. Messaging can help you avoid this problem if you implement the experience correctly.

Contact us today for a free demo of the Layer Customer Conversation Platform and find out the best ways to improve your customer experience.