I am a good Mom, most of the time. My daughter is away at college and needed me to pick up a certified/registered letter at the post office for her. The post office needed a signature for the letter and, of course, no one was ever home when they came to deliver it between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. — duh! Since my daughter couldn’t make it back home during post office hours herself (and being the good Mom), I told her that I would go to the post office and retrieve the letter for her.
So, bright and early in the morning I stood in line at the post office. Only five people ahead of me, great. I’ll still have time to grab a coffee before work. The trouble is that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), as we all know, is revenue-challenged and is operating in the red, so there was only one representative working the line. Customers were doing simple things, but only one guy working slowed things down considerably.
So, 30 minutes later, I finally got to the front of the line. The process to get a certified/registered letter was pretty straightforward. I had to show my driver’s license, as they required that it be the same address that was on the letter. I had to physically sign my name on the signature machine. That was it!
It was then that my wheels really started to turn. This process could be simplified and automated. And, even better, it could be more convenient and maybe even make me loyal to the post office as my shipper of choice and thus spend more money there: Just think if the post office had a mobile app that, among other things, could simplify this process.
If I received a registered letter that I needed to sign for, the app could notify me. I could use my devices camera to scan my driver’s license bar code to prove I was at the same address. I could then digitally sign the “form” within the app. The post office could deliver the registered letter to my home in their next mail delivery. I am happy, and the post office could save money by not needing someone at the physical location to process this type of transaction. Nor would they have to repeatedly try to get my signature at home, when I am never going to be there during the day. Simple, straightforward and effective to me (the customer) and the USPS.
That’s how organizations should be thinking about mobile care applications. They should bring value to the customer and the company — or organizations shouldn’t waste their time. The USPS could save money and apply a mobile app to processing transactions that absolutely need a human to complete the transaction — things like passport processing. The impact to customers is a better customer experience and one that they are more in control of and which is more convenient for them.
Another example is of an experience that I just had as a customer. I am taking my girls to Florida for spring break. My husband is a huge baseball fan (Cardinals, baby!) and we will hit the beach and some spring training games. Well, the girls are 10 and 11 and growing like weeds. So, I went online to order some swimsuits and shorts for the trip. In the Midwest we don’t have a lot of beach apparel in stores this time of year. I went online to my favorite U.K.-based retail site and ordered their stuff. Clothing sizes in the United Kingdom sizes are different than U.S. sizes, and I was not thinking straight, so I ended up ordering the wrong size on a couple items. The next day, I woke up panicked thinking I needed to call and change the sizes before the order shipped. When I called the company, by the time they heard my story, searched for my order, verified 62 pieces of information (exaggeration!) the call took about 12 minutes. And then, in the end, they weren’t able to change my order anyway. So annoying!
What could have and should have happened is that when I called, their system would have the ability to recognize that I had placed an order in the last 24 hours and the agent could greet me accordingly. “Hi Jil Fisher, are you calling about your recent order?” I would have been so much happier if they at least would have acknowledged me and the business I gave the company. And it certainly would have sped up the call if they knew something about me.
If the company could spend the time and focus on making sure all of their channels are connected and aware of recent activity everyone would win. It would save the company money in agent costs with shorter calls due to more intelligence when they are presented with the call. The customers would be more loyal due to the differentiated experience they receive in all the channels that they are using
I don’t want to suggest that customer data management easy. It seems straightforward when you are the customer, but there are lots of things that need to be contemplated from a company perspective — and you don’t want to try to boil the ocean.
- Companies need to think about their overall processes and how customers transact with them in general. Think like a customer — be a customer. The mobile channel creates a great opportunity to streamline, personalize and engage customers. Just don’t create another communication silo.
- Companies should think about how all of the channels can tie together. How they can streamline and connect channels.
It’s hard to know where to start, and that’s where a company like West can help. We can help create the vision for an overall customer experience and the road map to get there so you aren’t biting off more than you can chew. We are helping companies with this every day. And we are there every step of the way.
Learn more about this subject in Jil Fisher’s podcast, “Use a Mobile App to Improve Your Customer Care.”