Put the customer in charge

13th Nov 2012

Strange though it may seem to anyone under the age of 40 but, not so long ago, petrol pumps in the UK were manned. You weren’t trusted to operate the pump yourself but, instead, had to wait for an attendant to finish serving another customer, or operating the till, or having his tea break, so he could come and serve you your petrol.

While some now hark back to this era most of us are now quite happy to get on with the fairly simple task of putting fuel into our cars. It is quick, straightforward and, best of all, we can do it when and how we like it. Certainly, the forecourt operators are pleased that they no longer have to pay staff to perform this simple service.

So, it seems remarkable that so many companies in every type of sector are still insisting that customers call up or e-mail to make and amend their bookings. Recent research mplsystems conducted in association with Service Managament  revealed that only 40% of companies allow their customers to do this online themselves.

That means 60% of companies are making their customers wait for a help desk to open, or hold in a telephone queue, or wait three days for an e-mail response. Today’s consumers are not going to accept that; they expect to be able to do everything immediately and to be in control.

What is more, these companies are paying agents to perform these simple, tedious tasks. The agents don’t want to do them, the customers don’t want the agents to do them and the company doesn’t want to be paying the agents to do them. So, why on earth is it still happening?

Perhaps these companies fear that moving to a self-service system will be expensive and complex. They might think it is only for large companies. They are wrong. mplsystems work with small companies such as award-winning building firm Robert Woodhead which, when they moved to a self-service system, reduced its response times for service requests by 50% and the administration workload on their managers by 40%.

Other businesses, both B2C and B2B are choosing mobile apps to manage bookings and are using GPS location and associating with existing client data to reduce data entry to a single click for clients. These organisations such as Balfour Beatty workplace are effectively differentiating themselves by offering a truly multi-channel service.

.The self-service petrol pump is now just a historical curiosity; it is also way past time that the helpdesk which makes and amends simple bookings went the same way.


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