When something is a new process or procedure, has a lot of lag time, or is complicated, it doesn't take much to create uncertainty in the mind of your customer. Here's an example.
I love my no-frills, free-chequing Bizsmart account, but the rate on their savings component is appallingly low. After dithering for months, losing the applications in the pile of on the filing cabinets, throwing them out, and finally reprinting them off the web, I finally moved forward to apply for an account at ING Direct.
I waded through the forms, copied all my paperwork, and stuffed some cheques into the envelope per the required procedure. This was almost two weeks ago, and I had heard nothing. I knew the cheques had cleared, and wondered what was happening, so I finally gave them a call last night.
Here's what amazed me: if I had never made that call, my account would have stayed in limbo indefinitely. Let's just review step 4 in their instructions:
Once ING DIRECT receives the Enrollment Form, the Authorized Individuals Form, the Business Banking Resolution Form (if applicable), the cheques, and copies of the documentation noted above for the type of business specified, the account will be opened. To transact on this account, each Authorized Individual
must call us at 1-800-ING DIRECT (1-800-464-3473) to set up his/her unique PIN and Password once the cheques have cleared.
I remember at the time thinking, "okay, they are going to send me something, and then I have to call them." I was wrong about the part where they send me something. It didn't say that, I just assumed that. (D'oh) Of course, the instructions had gone in the mail with the forms.
It's a pretty good process, and the instructions are pretty clear, but not really clear enough. Some important signals felt like they were missing for me, signals to let me know what's happening and where we all are in the process. In this case, a signal that it's my turn to throw the ball.
Contrast this with L.L.Bean. I waited close to two months for a fleece sweater, and then sent it back for a different size, which was also backordered and took about six weeks to arrive. In that time, I received at least a dozen communications from LL.Bean letting me know where things stood. Result: no vague worries.
Some small grain of uncertainty has now already colored my heretofore flawless relationship with my newest bank. How unnecessary.
We all have a lot of things in our lives to deal with. Redundancy in communication is critical. Remember that lame joke, the punch line of which is "I told you 25 years ago that I loved you. If anything changes, I'll let you know". Not a good model for managing customer experience.