Zappos Shows the Power of Dynamic Communication
Zappos has become a household term to many in the online retailer business by delivering unprecedented customer service in a business as simple as selling shoes. Zappos communicates with customers (e.g., by providing discounts, rewards, sending billing information) as soon as they make a transaction, be it a purchase or a refund. Debits and credits are made immediately to the customer's account, so the customer gratification is immediate. Since 1999, the company has grown from $1.6 million in gross annual sales to over $1 billion.
Unfortunately, while many providers have added e-commerce capabilities, they are still stuck in an outdated line of thinking when it comes to billing. Additional charges and credits aren't added until the next billing cycle, and sometimes not for multiple billing cycles. This leaves the customer unsure of when, and if, any credits will be made to the account. Uncertainty leads to more customer service calls-calls that typically require an agent, rather than a lower-cost, self-service channel. So not only does monthly billing in these instances result in real expense to the organization, it also means customer dissatisfaction as they spend time and effort to get the matter resolved. As long as customers have some companies that can provide this service, they tend to expect it from all firms.
As in any good relationship, the rule remains: constant and prompt communication is essential.
A better solution is a real-time billing model, where changes, credits, discounts, and rewards are delivered immediately, telling the customer where he or she stands and saving the company from costly customer service calls to correct billing issues.
What service providers and retailers are you loyal to, and why? How much can your company save by eliminating calls to customer service to check on billing issues?
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