Customer service: the cost of poor information and being too late

The cost of waiting – the direct cost that is
The cost of waiting – the direct cost that is

We all have been there: we have an appointment with a service provider or a representative from a company like a plumber, a delivery company or the installer of a new Internet service and the person doesn’t show up in time, or worse, doesn’t show up at all.

A lack of up-to-date-information and of proper communication of course results in frustration and, lost time that you could have perfectly spent doing more interesting things. For the company you made the appointment with or are expecting goods from, the impact also is negative: it really doesn’t improve the customer service quality, customer experience and brand perception if customers loose private time, waiting for what they bought or asked. Imagine the negative impact if the next appointment(s) are not followed upon as well!

There never has been done, as far as we know, much European research into the economic impact of these long appointment wait windows, neither on the customer side nor on the company side. US-based TOA Technologies and research company Harris Interactive, however, announced the results of some research they did into the matter.

Customer service and the cost of waiting

The ‘TOA Technologies 2009 Cost of Waiting Survey’ polled more than 2,000 American consumers and found that 32% of them have taken a sick day or vacation day to wait at home for a service call or delivery in the first six months of 2009.

Almost 1 in 5 respondents lost wages because they took unpaid time off from work, just to sit and wait at home in the same period and 82% of the surveyed consumers wait on average at least one day per year at home for service calls or deliveries. How hard can it be to provide the right information to avoid this? Very hard, so it seems. It shows again how many businesses are living in information and content silos, rather focusing on flashy websites and brochures than what customers really need (to know).

A dramatic impact on your business

Who gets blamed for late appointments?
Who gets blamed for late appointments?

The impact on the reputation of the companies is quite impressive too. And it again shows how a true customer-centric approach should encompass all activities of a company, including everything that happens after the order. The right content and information for the right reasons at the right time is essential across the full customer life cycle and lifetime. Just like your brand is or good headlines are in online marketing, an appointment is a promise people expect you to fulfil.

Knowing the power of customer service, satisfaction, loyalty, word-of-mouth, etc. it is disappointing to see how many companies still make these basic errors. Of course everything can’t always be perfect but the least companies, that can’t live up to the appointments made, should do is inform their customers on time and with a proper explanation. The reasons are obvious and become even more obvious when we look at what consumers think when they sit and wait too long (or in vain).

57% of consumers say that the company they buy from is at fault if the delivery or service is late or doesn’t show. And it doesn’t matter if you provide the delivery/service yourself or a third party does. Another result: 18% of the surveyed consumers have refused or cancelled a product or service because the person was late or didn’t show up at the promised time. Oops, that’s a lot of money. And finally: 37% of consumers experience long wait times as ‘taking advantage of the customer’.

A holistic view on your customer and being customer-centric doesn’t end at the sale. It doesn’t even end when that long awaited service or delivery person rings the door bell of the customer.

Inform when, where and how it’s necessary, it’s so easy if you have a single customer view and know where your content and information sits (and can act upon it). And it avoids angry calls or tweets to the contact center – and thus even more costs for your business.

More in the PDF file.

Originally posted on our Social Email Marketing blog and moved as part of an integration.