To a customer, changing his or her mind in the middle of a purchase seems like the most natural thing in the world. Now, let’s say the scenario relates to the purchase of a vehicle, where the transaction may be at the point where almost all of the paperwork is done and the decision may be to terminate the purchase. To some businesses and their customer contact staff, that act of the customer exercising his or her power of choice to discontinue the transaction, will be the most aggravating situation ever. How the business navigates this scenario will be a defining moment for the customer.
Let me just say here, that, in the next normal, which is fast approaching, if a business does not readily accommodate something as simple as a customer’s change of mind, (even for transactions involving large purchases), then that customer is likely to have a change of heart towards that business.
Options essentially, the choices that businesses make available to customers, is the fourth customer love language. As humans, we enjoy exercising our power of choice, so naturally, being able to choose from an array of options that deliver value, will play a huge part in when, where, how and from whom we purchase.
A word of caution. The array and range of options or choices should not overwhelm customers to the point where they experience overload and decision fatigue. Have you ever gone to purchase an item and found yourself staring, eyes glazed over, at the huge array of options? More isn’t always better for customer decision making. In some cases, instead of being liberating, it’s sometimes paralysing, so don’t forget to include the standard choice, on the menu for example, to accommodate the indecisive or the overwhelmed customer.
The power to choose is important, so let’s talk about four inflection points where options and choice mean a lot to the customer.
Customised bundling of goods and services. When a business allows customers to pick and choose goods and services that accord with their personal preferences, there is joy. Financial institutions are allowing customers to decide their rates of interest, the repayment period and instalment figure on loans. Insurance companies are allowing clients to customise their policy features and providers of telemedicine services are allowing patients to bundle services that meet their needs. Can your business offer customisable bundling to your customers to “Individualise” their purchase?
Digitalisation of services. Let’s take a look at telemedicine within the area of telehealth. In this time of the pandemic, many patients are warming up to the idea of not having to visit the doctor physically, where it means venturing into a waiting room with other sick people. Patients can be diagnosed online, pay for their visit online, whilst having their prescription filled and delivered to their homes through a contactless ecosystem. Are you a physician who has begun to offer telemedicine services? If not, why not test the water to see how many of your patients would sign on for the service? You may be surprised at how your patient caseload may very well increase, especially if it’s just for routine check-ups.
Payment options that offer real convenience. Okay, so this is one of the big ones. Some businesses have gone the whole nine yards in this arena. More and more businesses are offering combinations of cardless, cashless or contactless transaction options. Micro-entrepreneurs for example, now have options that enable them to pay for and to receive payment for goods and services, using digital payment solutions. It just makes sense for a business, regardless of size, to have user friendly payment options for its customers and equally convenient payment options for settling its bills.
Self-service options. A growing multitude of customers want to access solutions whenever needed, minus the hassle of interacting with live support agents. It’s just convenient to go online, follow instructions and with some luck, rectify the situation, without having to escalate to a helpdesk agent. They want businesses to provide access to a repository of information and knowledge, some automated tools to help with their navigation on the learning or troubleshooting platform and then want to be left alone to work things out. How about adding customer education tips and guidelines to your website or social media page to help your customers maximise the use of your products and services?
Self-service portals come with many benefits, including increasing traffic to the site, building customer engagement, reducing customer support costs and creating opportunities for promotion of goods and services.
As we continue to move into a future where customers want experience journeys that deliver real value, the experience of the pandemic should have taught businesses two major lessons. One, the experience journey must be value-rich to sustain customer interest and two, options and choices need to be customer centric to safeguard against customer flight.
Since being left behind is not a healthy business option, maybe embracing these two imperatives would be a good idea.