Every company that offers a product or a service is simplifying it. That’s the trend. The less details to fill out, the better. The more sleek the design, the better. It’s all about reducing the value chain and making things faster and easier to be consumed.
The easier for potential consumers to use our product/service the sooner we can try and convert them to be loyal. And when they become loyal, they become immersed in what we have to offer, reading and finding out everything they can about our product. But that’s only a few of the thousands or millions that buy our product or sign up for our service. What happens to most of those who don’t become loyal?
They’re left in the dark. A way of looking at it is we’re robbing them of education. Education on how our product really works. Education on what we really provide. Education on how they can easily troubleshoot on their own.
I’m not saying that lack of education is bad. We can’t know everything, anyway, right? But as long as we have consumers out there that buy our product and do not know much about it, we can expect them to ask something.
So let’s assume maybe at least 5 questions per user about our product. That’s still not too bad. Here’s the real issue on hand: Is our Customer Service department big enough, trained enough, skilled enough to handle all those questions and concerns from uneducated consumers—with quality?
Let’s do some math (I’ll keep it simple):
1,000,000 buy our product.
10,000 of them become loyal fans (1%, not bad) who really read and learn more about what we offer.
990,000 are uneducated users.
5 questions/concerns per uneducated user leads to about 4,950,000 concerns and queries.
Even if we put FAQs up, let’s expect that at least 2 out of those 5 concerns are not clearly answered by the FAQ.
That’s still 1,980,000 concerns for a team to handle.
Are we contented with giving out 1,980,000 canned responses just so that our Customer Service team can address the concerns? More often than not those canned responses will just lead to either another concern or a forever disgruntled consumer whom we never got to convert to being loyal.
Countering the Lack of Consumer Education
The point is, simplifying what we have to offer does not mean we can cut investing in Customer Service. If at all, I think we need to bolster up that team even more, because people only know so much about our products. But there might be other ways.
Off the top of my head I can think of 3 ways to address the lack of consumer education:
1) Make sure that the Customer Service department is the best department. Make sure that they can address any concern with ease and with the best solution for the company and for each consumer. Bias aside, I think Blizzard does this well for their games, especially the North American CS team.
2) Educate at the beginning. Apple does this well by providing short and clear tutorial videos on their site. I remember that that was my favorite site in the first few days of my MacBook’s life with me.
3)Tap into Social Media and get the loyalists on board, not formally, as forum moderators, but as experts in a community. Daniel Pink wrote in this book, Drive, that turning a passion into work (i.e. reverse Sawyer Effect) makes the passion less fun. Create a platform for people who want to share tips and discuss things can whether it’s a forum or another type of community site. Not only do you involve your consumers (instead of retaining), you also have a chance to convert them into loyalists, thanks to your own loyal community.
SImplification is fine, as long as we have a very efficient way of dealing with lack of information, whether reactive or proactive. The key word: Very. Because efficient is not enough.