It's interesting how low the bar has been set for Customer Service* in business today. Simply replying back to an email within a reasonable amount of time can go a very long way in a customer's mind, earning you business for a very long time. Whereas not replying to an email may cause the sending-party to jump to many unreasonable conclusions:
- Is this business still in business?
- Did the person get fired?
- Maybe they just don't care about me anymore!
- etc. etc. and the list goes on and on.
The speed of business and communication has exponentially increased over the past few years and in a Fast Company article, Aye Moah, (Chief of Product & Co-Founder of Boomerang) shared his findings that the average time it takes to receive a reply to an email: 23 hours.
Seriously, 23 hours?!
Yes, 23 hours. But that's not the most surprising thing.
The reason it is only 23 hours is because that average time must factor in the fastest reply times (50% of emails were responded to in under 2 hours), with the longest reply times.
The reality is this: We no longer judge a company based on the Customer Experience, but rather on our own Customer Perception of that company.
While Customer Experience focuses on the workflow and steps followed to complete a transaction (the must-do things to stay open as a business), Customer Perception is what a customer actually feels about how the company treats them during the experience/transaction (i.e. how much does the company care about me?)... and while 23 hours might be "ok" according to some companies' Customer Experience protocol, Customer Perception would say this is not acceptable.
In fact, if (or when) a more responsive company comes along, the customers are sure to follow.
Don't believe us? Have you ordered from Amazon using Amazon Prime lately? As a culture, our attention span is getting shorter and shorter; and as our attention span gets shorter, so does our margin in our life for inconveniences such as waiting... and for the case of this article, waiting on an email reply.
What if your company culture was to show how much you care about your business and your customers to actually be better than the average? What if you cared enough to do significantly better; remarkably different; refreshingly user-friendly and approachable?
Here's an interesting takeaway for every business: Develop a Customer Perception Plan.
This might include things like:
- What should the customer feel while working with us?
- How long should someone wait for an email auto-reply?
- What are topics that your team can discuss that will turn the convo from technical jargon about your product or service, to a human connection? (i.e. asking the customer about their weekend plans or if they have any fun plans for dinner that night?)
It's all about Perception and showing that you are doing more than checking off the box of sending just another email to just another person.
When we started CloseSimple, our goal was simple: help Title and Escrow Companies pro-actively communicate during the settlement process through one-touch automated email and text message updates. Our "Pizza Tracker for Title" has helped keep all parties engaged during the closing process, while making it more efficient (saving 60-90 minutes per file)!
This shows that being conscious about Customer Perception does not mean you must neglect Efficiency. Choose to raise the bar in your business, and begin with your email and email inbox.
* Note: At CloseSimple, we do not call it "Customer Service," but rather "Customer Care," since Care is Pro-Active (i.e. getting the spa treatment), whereas Service is Reactive (i.e. needing to go in and get an oil change).. We believe our clients deserve Care, not simply Service.