Getting my car’s oil changed recently opened my eyes to how technology can shape customer experience through continuous, proactive communication. This time I tried a small local place instead of one of the corporate lube shops. To my surprise, when I gave them my information and prepared to sit down, they offered me the use of a loaner car so I could run errands while they worked on my car.
I was excited to take them up on their offer, and as I headed off to an impromptu customer meeting, I got a text message from the shop saying, “Your vehicle is third in line and approximate pickup time is 2:00 p.m.” While I was at my customer meeting, I received another text stating, “Your vehicle is on the hoist, should be about 35 minutes, and updated pickup time is 1:55 p.m.”
I knew then that I would be their loyal customer from that day forward. On my way back to their shop, I received a final text saying, “Your service is complete, and your car is parked in spot 3 out front with your keys in the cupholder and receipt on your seat, enjoy your day!” Now, not only did they lock me in as a customer for life, but I also posted on social media about my experience and went out of my way to tell friends about their company. This is exactly the kind of reaction we should all be aiming for as we provide customer experiences in our own businesses.
I decided to check with our software partners to see if we could create similar experiences for our customers. After digging in, here are some things that are available right now that we easily and quickly put in place at our company.
Text and/or email notifications
When a customer places an order with us, we schedule it within 30 minutes. Upon scheduling, the software automates a message that notifies the customer when the order is scheduled to deliver and the name and contact info of the dispatcher, in case they have questions.
If the order changes at all, either back-ordered or changed delivery time, another automated message lets them know which product was backordered or the new ETA of their delivery. Within the notification, the GPS site link for the truck is shared, so the customer can check in real time where the load is.
As our truck leaves the yard, it hits our geofence that marks the delivery in process and that automates another notification with a more exact window of time to expect delivery.
As we physically drop the material, we take pictures of the order. When the driver uploads them, it automatically invoices the order and triggers the final notification. This last message confirms that the material has been delivered and attaches the invoice as well as pictures of the material on site.
Customers are raving about this change, and not only has it not cost us extra time, but it has also saved us time from fielding calls to answer questions from builders and installers. This simple change created a seismic shift to our customers’ trust levels.
At a basic level, we are a delivery service for our customers. Looking at the most successful delivery services that are available in other industries should inspire us. Uber Eats, for example, is changing the way we experience restaurants while also increasing sales for the restaurants. How? They simply provide convenience and continuous, proactive communication. Their sales are surging, and customers are paying for the high level of service. Customers can order food from just about anywhere now, but they consistently want Uber Eats to deliver it.
Our customers enjoy a wider selection of products than ever before, and they can also order from anywhere, but I’m convinced that the best companies will be the ones that deliver—continuously and proactively.
Shane Soule consults with LBM and component companies to increase productivity and profits, and improve the experience for both customers and team members. Reach Shane at email@example.com.