This post was sparked by a horrible experience I had with one of the big Canadian telecommunications companies. I know many of you can relate, because I’ve heard similar stories from family and friends.
Here’s the gist of what happened. For one product, it took ten touch points to find out my options, make a selection, and complete the transaction: a store visit, 2 Internet chats, two failed contact attempts, and five telephone calls.
At least I got a blog post out of it. And yep, I was tempted to switch service providers, but I’m not really convinced another company would be better.
I started thinking about why something like this still happens, even with a company whose business it is to provide communications services. Extensive resources and technology don't necessarily translate to a better consumer experience.
Organizational barriers to good customer service, information delivery, and brand messaging need to break down
The experience I had is a sales and customer service example, but content and social media can just as easily get derailed if there’s no core set of ideals in place.
If you’re going to have many different employees sharing online, there has to be a cohesive message. It’s not that everyone needs to be a drone, but a tone has to be set for your company. It’s the same with content. You don’t want it to be cookie-cutter boring, but it should have a unified tone that reflects the business from which it originates.
Whether it’s a news release, an e-newsletter, a company bio, or a case study, the tone and basic substance should be the same. The role of the department that originates the information is irrelevant to your customers. They just need access to content that informs, educates, familiarizes, and builds trust. How can that possibly happen if no common ground exists across an organization?
My unpleasant experience involved a huge company, but integration is also vitally important for smaller companies. Fortunately, the smaller the company, the easier it is to have cohesive communications. And if you’re a one-person operation, you’ve got no worries on that score.
An integrated voice is critical in order to make the client experience adequate, never mind good or excellent. Just telling all your customer service reps to say “I’m sorry you’re experiencing this problem” isn’t enough. It’s nice that you’re sorry, but it would be nicer if I could get what I need in one place instead of going through ten different people.
The client just doesn’t think of an organization in terms of its parts. He doesn’t expect the message to vary, and when it does, due to a lack of an integrated communications strategy, there are no excuses.
He’s not thinking – “Oh wait, that came from marketing, and the thing I read before came from customer service. They probably don’t even speak to each other, so I shouldn’t expect them to say the same thing.”
He’s just thinking, “Can’t these people get their stories straight?”