November 14, 2011
Part 5 of my 10-part blog series on how to master your service experience is also short and to the point: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and tell them when they should expect an answer from you.
Step 5: Keep your customers in the loop
Not all customer questions can be answered in real time; some require offline research time. Other questions, like those that come in by email or a web form, have inherent delays. It’s important to communicate service expectations — and meet them so that your customers learn to trust you. Here is a good example of an acknowledgement of an email sent to Starwood’s customer service organization; it tells the customer to expect a reply within 48 hours, but if this is too long to wait, the customer can contact the company via phone for help.
What is surprising is that SLAs are communicated to the customer for customer service via Twitter. Here is a rare example that lets users know that Twitter is offline for the night:
You should also look to offer proactive service to your customers. Push out service alerts or proactive fixes for common customer issues. Let them flag conditions for which they want to be notified, such as when their bank balance drops below a certain threshold. Let them choose how they want to receive these alerts: is it by SMS, email, or Twitter? These proactive communications go a long way toward keeping your customer loyal, as they feel you are looking out for their best interests.