Think Long-term or be Long Tail
I was at a consumer electronics store yesterday. The salesperson was equipped with a tablet where he could access customer information, product information, look at inventory and access the infinite aisle. The purchase decision took just 10 minutes, with us feeling very optimistic about the sales experience… till it turned turtle. Billing was a nightmare — 45 minutes of waiting while they tinkered with the system, asked us for transaction IDs multiple times, mis-entered the discount codes, entered and re-entered GST numbers. This wasn’t a one off, we should have seen the signs — they had benches installed in the billing section. All of the positivity was washed out by the time we were done. We eventually left feeling hazy about when the installation engineers would arrive — no one could answer that with certainty.
An insurance aggregator started reminding me about a lapsing policy 3 months before the due date. They called, emailed, and whatsapped incessantly. I finally extended the policy 2 days ago — well within the timeframe. I got a call today and they asked me to send a screenshot of the transaction. I told them I’d done my bit and they are giving me more work — turns out this too was supposed to be my job — to prove that I have made a payment.
And it makes me think about the silliness of digitalization decisions. The short term, half baked patchy approach. I can see it playing out on email:
1. Marketing says — give me reach
2. Sales says — empower my agents to sell
3. Tech says — tell me what to do
4. CFO says — X is the budget for marketing outreach and sales conversions, now tech do your thing and support them
5. After sales says… nothing, no one thought to call them
As a result, excellent sales and marketing, horrible user experience, and zero customer service. Some thoughts on this, which are basically just Business 101:
1. Create value across the chain… your goal isn’t just to sell, it’s also to provide exemplary service and cultivate customers for life — a very wise person mentioned this to me last week — you don’t close sales, you open relationships.
2. Do your job… don’t outsource it to the customer. Think through the journey and make your systems speak to each other — inter-departmental and with your partner network. Design your services with a designer — innovation isn’t just technology’s responsibility.
3. Break the silos… making profit while serving your customers is everybody’s job — HR, accounts. technology, customer service, after sales and logistics included. Thrash this out together.
4. Think long term… or you’ll be long tail.
5. Don’t set yourself up for failure — consumer electronics store, remove those benches from billing.
We can, should and must address these issues. We live in a world where emergence is the new normal. What brought us here, will not take us any further —and an able competitor is just turning around the corner.