A customer called us recently. His call was answered really quickly. A repair was needed to his home. His problem was diagnosed with just a couple of questions. He was given a time and date for the repair. He was told it would be in two weeks time – a part was needed that wasn’t in stock. He thanked the Advisor for the call and went away happy.
Pretty much textbook service.
Except – he called back 10 minutes later.
He had looked for the part on his smartphone and it was available at a local store, 5 minutes from his home. So he wanted to know – why will it take 2 weeks?
This is the just the beginning of the end of 20th Century customer service.
The 21st Century customer is smarter.
- They can find things out quicker than we can.
- They can install an app on their phones that can solve their problem in seconds.
- They can draw all their data and applications into one place in the time it takes for us to say the words “Customer Relationship Management”.
And if they can do it. And you can’t. Then what if someone else comes along who can?
“We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.” – R.D Laing
This quote – and the context in which it is used – has made me re-evaluate everything I’m working on.
It’s used in Smart Customers , Stupid Companies , a book that I’m ever so slightly in love with.
The scenario it describes is pretty simple. Disruption is coming to the way we work. Massive disruption. And it’s all going to be caused by customers who are smarter than us.
The only question is – are you going to be one of the disruptors? Innovating and implementing change at a pace that the rest of your sector just can’t keep up with.
Or are you destined to be disrupted? Losing ground and competitive advantage. Your customers regarding you as a dinosaur. Inching ever closer to redundancy and eventual oblivion.
The sector in which I work is ripe for disruption. Not because it’s bad. Not at all.
But it has loads of interactions with customers that could be made easier through smart technology and the removal of “pain points”.
A typical applicant for housing will speak to multiple people , multiple organisations and answer a thousand questions – before they even get the keys to a door.
The technology is here to reduce all of that to a single interaction with just one person focussed on the applicant. Or – if we wanted – we could remove the human element completely.
So if the technology exists, and it saves money , and it leads to better customer experience – why hasn’t anyone done it?
- Because it’s difficult. ( Yes – very , very difficult)
- Because no-one can disrupt the legal contract between landlord and tenant. (At the moment yes. But they should be able to. And they will be able to. )
- And because we – in this speeded up moment of history – cannot see the present until it has begun to disappear.
But it’s a stark choice. Disrupt your industry. Or face being disrupted.
I know where I want to be.