Online service that precedes physical service seems to be always better. OK Amazon.com is an exception which is able to physically deliver to a consumers' delight. There are numerous examples of this "sure to disappoint the consumer" situation.
A recent example from a top hotel that sends you an email asking you to check-in online and just pick up the key and save the wait at check-in. In small print, the email tells you that another email will come in once the room is ready.. and we are talking about the regular check in time. Several different folks who had actually checked in on-line find themselves waiting because the room is not ready. The reception desk reads the email and offers rather unhelpfully that a "second" email is the confirmation that you have your room.
And the experience repeats in all those situations where you do some stuff online but have to receive the actual service physically. Consider banking online and going to the bank to complete an infrequent activity like loan documents or trying to change your seat or fight in an airport. Why does this happen so often? Here are some thoughts:
- Most organizations do not see the importance of giving top priority and focus on delivery like Amazon.com. So even if you order only occasionally Amazon does better than what it promises at the ordering stage. The customer is not expected to do anything more than ordering and paying. No wonder Amazon is among America's most loved companies.
- In contrast, most organizations expect customers to do work beyond ordering and paying online. Sounds unfair but most organizations don't seem to realize this. This additional work includes in the hotel example (a) check in online (b) stay away from the registration desk because the second email has not arrived confirming a ready room and all this after the posted check in time.
- In most repeated off-line /on-line transactions the customer gets experience and does not feel as bad. Think of banking online and going in to deposit a check. You know the "routine" and things don't appear difficult.
- Infrequent transactions are where the customer has no experience in dealing with the delivery process of the organization. The service provider, when untrained makes things worse by ridiculing or getting annoyed with customers who are just trying to work out how the delivery of service will happen.
So if your organization has moved any part of your processes online it's really useful to check how your customers, particularly the infrequent ones are coping. Else all that effort, money and hopes on technology, mobile phone app etc. is not succeeding in that ultimate goal: to keep your customer happy. Contact StratoServe.