The combination of laryngitis and integrated marketing expertise led to an interesting doctor visit this week. I’d been battling a cold for a week when my voice disappeared overnight. The only thing I could do was whisper softly. Two days later, it wasn’t back so I had my sister call for a same day appointment. (How do people make doctor appointments when they don’t have a voice, online scheduling, or handy friend?)
It was my doctor’s first day back from vacation, so I was surprised he had time to see me. After an exam, instructions to rest my voice (as in NO talking), and a prescription for antibiotics, my doctor said that he needed to ask me something. I presumed that it was something to do with my health or one of my family members, so when he asked, “has capturing information replaced service?” I was surprised.
He told me that they traveled to the northeast to visit a park for their vacation. When they tried to check in, the process was exhausting. He commented that the attendant didn’t seem to know the process very well, but that was only a small part of the problem. She had to use two different computers and a separate payment processing system to complete the transaction. Once the check-in challenges were resolved, his family enjoyed their stay so much that they decided to spend an extra night. Extending the stay was worse than the original check-in.
When does the value of capturing information exceed the value of the customer experience?
The real question he wanted me to answer was “when does the value of capturing information exceed the value of the customer experience?” The obvious answer, “NEVER”, sounds good (and is easy when you don’t have a voice), but it isn’t that simple. Some information is required before the customer experience begins. Payment is needed for the company to stay in business. And, there are the security identification requirements for overnight housing. After capturing these items, the rest is for future data mining efforts.
The problem is that there won’t be any reason to mine data if the experience is so bad that customers don’t want to return. My doctor said that even though he loved the park experience, the check-in process would keep him from visiting again.
The tragedy is that most of the information captured today by our super computers isn’t being used to benefit company or customer. The idea, “we may need it someday”, sacrifices the customer experience for the hope of future gains. Is that investing wisely?
It’s easy to be caught up in the “capture everything, something will be valuable” mentality.
I’ve even been known to say it, but I didn’t mean to do it at the expense of service. If we don’t step back and look at our practices from the customer’s viewpoint, then our information gathering won’t help our businesses grow. It’ll destroy them.
We need to take steps now to find the balance between data acquisition and customer service. Here are four warning signs that capturing data has replaced customer care as a top priority:
- There is a high abandonment rate when people reach the “more” information page when subscribing to your emails or joining your loyalty program. The objective is to connect with your customers and prospects. Requiring them to provide detailed information about themselves and their interests increases resistance. Ask nicely, but don’t require it.
- It takes more time to capture information than it does to complete the transaction. It is very frustrating for customers when they have to provide extensive information for a simple transaction. Capture the minimum amount of information needed to process the order. Once it is complete, ask if they would like to share more information. Offer a discount on their next order in exchange.
- Your management team spends more time on analytics than customer care. Knowing the numbers that drive your business is important, but knowing your customers is even better. Use your numbers to improve your service, not to replace it. Keep your focus on your customers to insure that they have an exceptional customer experience.
- Training sessions for your customer care team are on how to use the system instead of how to connect with customers. When you invest your time in teaching your frontline how to please your customers, you’ll have multiple opportunities to capture the data. Your customers will keep coming back.