Improving Customer Service through Digital Technologies: Learning from Different Sectors23 July 2014
A while ago, I wrote a blog about the role that digital technologies played when I bought a bike online and how important it was to analyse the entire customer experience when trying to ensure customer satisfaction. A key part of the great service experience in that example was the receipt of automated text messages which informed me about my order and when and where parts would be delivered. A friend recently told me about their experience when they moved house with Nationwide which surprisingly mirrored this experience. I was so pleased to hear that the digital method of keeping customers informed of the progress of the service requested, in this case a mortgage, had migrated to a new sector, that of financial services.
My friend received a text message at several stages of the process:
Text 1) To let her know that the mortgage product she had requested had been reserved and that they’d “be in touch again shortly”
Text 2) That the mortgage application has been received and that they’d let her know how the processes progresses
Text 3) That the mortgage valuation was booked, the date, and that they’d be in touch when they’d received the report
Text 4) That they had received a satisfactory valuation report
Text 5) That they were delighted to inform her that they had now issued a formal mortgage offer and that they look forward to completing on this offer (stages 1-5 happened within a week)
Text 6) That her solicitor had requested mortgage funds to be released by a certain completion date and if that date did not suit, then to please inform her solicitor.
This is seriously impressive. Not only from a speed perspective, but also from a customer satisfaction perpective. Buying a house is a worrying time, how reassured did my friend feel as she received text messages letting her know how things were going? These simple automated texts were, in a way helping her to feel more in control of a process that she actually, had very little control of. It also saved Nationwide work, she wasn’t ringing them every other day to check how her application was proceeding, or when the valuation was going to take place, automated text messages made the process transparent.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I believe that a key component of value within 21st century services is that of “visibility”. Customers want and need to know what’s happening. Digital technologies are a key enabler of visibility, they allow a customer to log on and see how things are going, to be informed about how their request is progressing, to make decisions about their services instantly, without having to rely on anyone else.
More and more, basic transactions are being placed in the hands of the customer themselves – the ability to self-serve. Think about how reliant we all used to be on visiting our local bank? Now I can do most transactions myself, I know what’s happening to my money as I can visit my account any time online, and I like it. It makes me feel in control.
There is no doubt that digital technologies can save time and effort within our processes, when this digital advancements give the customer better visibility of what’s happening, and great control, customer satisfaction is enhanced. As we see such advances are moving through different sectors, organisations need to be aware that digital visibility will soon no longer be a delightful surprise, but a basic customer expectation.