A few weeks ago, I placed an online order with a small retailer. I immediately received an invoice, confirmation of my order, and a tracking number. Then… silence. For over a week I waited for my purchase to arrive. No updates to the tracking number, and no possibility to log in to see where my order was along the shipping and delivery chain. Ultimately it arrived. It didn’t even take much longer than it would have had I ordered from a major online retailer. However, I had already decided that I would abstain from placing orders with the smaller retailer in the future.
Your customers expect nothing less than the best when it comes to transparent service.
I am not an anomaly in today’s competitive customer service game. With the real-time tracking, 24-hour service, and predictive analytics ushered in by the digital age, customer expectations have shifted dramatically. Your customers expect to remain informed along the entire customer service chain: from start to finish. Though this may do little to change the outcome of the service or solution provided, integrating your customers into the process gives them a sense of control and also leaves the impression that you value both their business and maintaining an open line of communication. This is customer service transparency at its best!
Customer service is no longer just about getting the job done as efficiently and quickly as possible. The digital age has prompted a new way of gauging the service experience. Customers are no longer satisfied with just a solution. They want to know when they can expect what results from their service providers. This level of transparency into the customer service experience means keeping customers informed along the entire service chain: from service request, to status updates, to real-time tracking, to completion. And this level of transparency even extends beyond the completed service as predictive analytics tools and AI-powered technologies allow service providers a glimpse into customer likes and interests as well as the need for potential future solutions, repairs, and upgrades.
What is customer service transparency?
Customers Place Top Priority On Transparency
With today’s CRM, ERP, FSM tools coupled with IoT and AI-powered solutions, this is no longer an impossible task. The dilemma when it comes to keeping customers informed lies not in a lack of viable technologies to facilitate this demand. Rather, service providers often underestimate customer interest in this insight deeming it either too complex or irrelevant to the end aim: delivering the service.
However, studies have shown the opposite to be true. Ryan W. Buell, an expert in the creation of engaging service models, has conducted research on the customer experience. What he determined should inspire many service providers to reconsider how much information they share with customers . Concisely:
- A deeper understanding of what goes into providing the service gives customers a greater appreciation for the amount of effort exerted, which in turn leads to added appreciation of the service.
- A clearer understanding of the effort exerted not only makes customers believe the job is being performed with greater thoroughness, it also leads them to assess the service providers’ expertise more highly.
- These two factors not only increase trust and satisfaction, they also boost sales.
Mistaking Information for Transparency
Being upfront with your customers about what to expect and when is one thing. Flooding them with irrelevant information is another. Let me remind you of my experience with the small retailer. A tracking service is only valuable to a customer if the service data is up-to-date and accurate. Implementing real-time tracking technology and not providing timely, or worse yet inaccurate, information is not only frustrating to customers who rely on this data to manage their own schedules and availability, it also reflects poorly on your overall command of the service chain. No one needs fake real-time insight!
Transparency also does not mean a one-to-one exchange of company information with the customer.
- Stick to terminology that your customers can understand.
- Steer clear of abbreviations that only your employees would recognize.
- And certainly be sure to conceal your failures and flaws.
Many of the same tools we employ to keep customers informed about their service requests also offer us the opportunity to amass countless data points and glean potential errors or areas where we can improve our processes and results. This is a great chance for service providers to implement change and work towards a better solution. These areas that might require some tweaking need not, however, be emphasized to the customer in the form of overly informative status updates. Some things are best left unsaid, so be smart about what you share.