Don't force the customer into working how we want them to work
I’ve run into two scenarios this week where co-workers asked me how they should handle certain requests. How these questions get answered shows how much you’re in a customer-centric mindset.
Customer requests a new version of a product
Within our SelfService application, we allow customers to request product upgrades. Rather than using this mechanism, a customer simply created a new support case asking to receive the latest version of one of our products that they have licensed. One of my co-workers asked me: Should we tell him to go into SelfService and request the upgrade using the mechanism we’ve setup?
Customer requests SelfService logins for his new co-workers
From our SelfService login page, we have a link that allows you to register for SelfService. If a customer doesn’t already have a login, then can fill out the form in order to get login access. Rather than using this mechanism, a customer simply opened a new support case, asking us to create logins for his co-workers. One of my co-workers asked me: Should we tell him to go into SelfService and request the logins using the mechanism we’ve setup?
The standard answer to these questions is Yes – tell the customer to follow the process we want them to follow.
But that answer sucks.
The right answer is No – we’ll just handle the request. We know what the customer wants. We know what we need to do. We have the information we need. Just give the customer what they’re requesting. There’s no need to force the customer to do additional work, to follow our process. When you look at these questions from the customer standpoint, it becomes clear as day. Don’t force the user into working how we want them to work.
It’s OK to guide them. To tell them that if they follow a certain process that they’ll get a quicker response. That’s fine. But don’t force them.
When questions like these arise, it’s a good time to re-examine your processes, your tools, your website. Why didn’t the customer use the mechanisms we’ve setup? Are they not easy to find? Are they not self-explanatory? Can they be improved? Are they too hard to use? Are there too many hoops to jump through? What can we do to improve the customer experience?
If you put yourself in the mindset of the customer, many of these questions and decisions become a lot easier to answer.