I’ve been watching a lot of football lately and seeing a quarterback get ‘blindsided’ is painful. Hits that come from either side, without any warning or view, are the very worst and often lead to injury, a fumble, and frustration from both the quarterback and the coach. When the quarterback knows a hit is coming, he reacts much differently. He can make plays happen or at least protect his body and the ball better.
Like a sacked quarterback, it’s fair to say that an angry customer is often one who gets blindsided. Policies and procedures may have been communicated to him/her at the beginning of the customer relationship but are now long forgotten. Or, they may have not realized they were approaching their bank account limit, service plan maximum, etc. Regardless of the reason, the customer expectation today is that the business they’re dealing with, in exchange for their loyalty, will resolve their problem.
A few personal blindside examples:
- My credit card is blocked by the bank when paying for dinner because of potential fraud (without any notification).
- An order is delayed or lost in transit and I have to spend 20 minutes on the phone with an agent tracking it down.
- Flight delays or seat changes that always seem to occur when my wife and children are traveling with me.
- Penalty notices in the mail about payments that I sent, but were never received.
All of these items create anxiety, frustration and a ‘me against you’ customer attitude. They also could have been avoided with a proactive notification, gaining my trust and loyalty, and increasing my satisfaction with these companies. For instance, let’s look at how a proactive notification could have helped the situations above:
- Credit Card Fraud: Send me a text message asking if I authorized the following last two transactions before blocking my credit card. If I confirm, then my credit card is available to use.
- Order Confirmation: Send an email with tracking number and allow me to see updates on where it is in transit.
- Flight Updates: Send me a text message when there are any changes or delays, and include options for next steps (like selecting a different seat).
- Late Payment: Call me with an interactive voice message, telling me the problem and allowing me to pay my bill – without penalties.
These simple interactions not only provide a better customer experience, but they also save the call center tremendous money. It takes pennies to proactively notify customers across multiple channels, versus dollars to answer the phone, or deal with negative publicity on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp or other social media sites.
Bottom line: Get information to your customers in advance so they can be informed and take action before it turns into a problem. Protect your customer and don’t let them be blindsided.
Related reading: Smart Customer Service recently published a great article titled: Soothing the Angry Customer. It discusses how to deal with angry customers in addition to avoiding them in first place.