Is it better to overcommunicate or under-communicate with customers? With marketing, less can sometimes be more. But when it comes to customer service and customer experience issues, overcommunicating is almost always better.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the #1 determining factor of loyalty is reducing customer effort. When we communicate with customers, we reduce their effort because they don’t have to seek out answers themselves.
Lately I’ve noticed that many companies are getting lazy with their communications or, sometimes, avoiding communicating altogether.
An Airline Under-Communicates With Customers
I received a text from a major airline (name hidden to protect the guilty) just as I was about to leave for the airport. My flight departure was delayed SIX HOURS from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There was no explanation, no apology; just a matter-of-fact text informing me of the change.
I was flying on a Sunday for a keynote speech on Monday, and had scheduled two meetings and a dinner upon my arrival. A six-hour delay would have ruined most of that. So although this wasn’t listed as an option in the text, I rescheduled my flight on my own. The result? A direct flight turned into a 2 ½-hour layover in Des Moines, Iowa, and I arrived 3 ½ hours later than my original scheduled time (but still three hours earlier than if I had stayed on the rescheduled direct flight).
More communication would have helped this customer experience. I still have no idea why the flight was delayed, other than that it wasn’t weather. And for a six-hour delay, it was probably something major. While knowing the reason wouldn’t change the result, it would likely make me feel better about the inconvenience.
Given that I am an elite status member on this airline, I think a phone call from an agent ready to help me find a better flight would have been the ideal experience. This would have shown me that the airline cared about me, versus sending an automated email with a major itinerary change at the last minute and assuming I’d figure it out myself.
A Car Company Does Not Communicate With Customers At All
I recently placed an order for a new car at a major electric car dealer (name hidden to protect the guilty). The delivery date range was listed as late March to late April. As instructed, I downloaded the mobile app to complete the buying process.
Every couple of weeks, I checked the mobile app and found that the delivery dates had changed drastically – sometimes by weeks, sometimes by months. Not once was I notified of these changes in any communication channel. If I hadn’t proactively checked the app, I would have never known. And of course, other than suspecting supply chain issues, I have no idea why the dates keep changing.
Isn’t this a strange way to introduce a brand-new customer to the brand?
A Flooring Company Overcommunicates With Customers, in a Good Way
Last year I replaced some old carpeting and tile flooring with wood floors. Mr. Floor, a Chicago-area flooring company, did something I’ve never seen before or since with a home improvement project.
Every day during the nearly two-week project, I received an email from the foreman summarizing everything that was accomplished that day, including photographs of the progress and confirmation of any decisions we had made together (for example, choosing the color of the grout). It was a terrific diary of the project, and I now have before, during, and after photos preserved for the future.
The result? I felt included and involved in the experience throughout the project. It was a great example of being Immersive.
“Immersive” is the “I” in the “WISER” methodology outlined in my new book, The Experience Maker: How To Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait To Share. WISER stands for Witty, Immersive, Shareable, Extraordinary, and Responsive, and it represents the core components of experiences that customers want to talk about.
How You Communicate Matters
So what can we learn from these three examples? Communication is key to a simple, enjoyable customer experience. It is better to overcommunicate rather than under-communicate or worse, not communicate at all.
When you communicate with customers about a situation that affects them, they:
- feel more empowered and in control
- are less likely to call customer service to complain or ask questions
- believe that you’ve got their back
- trust you
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