I was behind a Staples (office supplies) delivery truck on the motorway recently which carried the advertising strap line ‘Three ways to buy’, with online, by phone and in store the options offered me by the lorry. Since we had ground to a halt in an M6 traffic jam I reflected that this was indeed an interesting stationary choice.
This is nothing new, think tea, loose leaf or in a tea bag which was first marketed in 1904 by tea merchant Thomas Sullivan. There are many other examples; the difference today is the range of options that companies want to offer. Most have recognised the need to move on from a ‘take it or leave it’ approach, (although this doesn’t apply to their automated phone systems) to a ‘this is what we will offer you’ mindset. Finding as many ways possible to deliver our service to us is the challenge. Like the razor blade wars between Gillette and Wilkinson Sword it appears that organisations have to find one more than their rivals.
Is this what your customers want? Have you asked them? Is this really important to people? Most importantly is it worth the investment? Sometimes you need to try something new and completely different to find better ways to serve your customers. I will be eternally grateful to the banker who talked their bosses into developing telephone banking. Internet banking on the other hand may offer benefits but for me the convenience of telling someone what I want is far superior.
This is where we see the difference between those companies that ‘do to their customers’ and those that give people the experience they want. A subtle yet telling differentiator. Telephone Banking is the opportunity for the bank to give me a personal experience, to connect with me, to involve me in an interaction which is personalised. I can become emotionally attached to their service. This is far more difficult to achieve with an internet experience which is entirely functional.
Although ‘three ways to buy’ is a great idea, will I get three equally great experiences?