In case you missed it Banksy, the elusive and reclusive UK graffiti artist who has previously sold his works for well over $1 million, set up a pop-up table on a New York city street last weekend to sell some of his paintings. And while he gave no indication of his intent, most Banksyphiles assumed he was merely trying making a statement, not a profit. After the day came to an end, Banksy had sold a few of his works for a total take of about $400. One woman even haggled with him to drop his $60 asking price down to $30. He even closed a couple of sales with a hug. Auctioneers estimate the purchased works could actually be valued at $31,000 each.
But clearly a man who has sold his paintings to the art world upper crust was not test-marketing a direct sales strategy. In his usual soft spoken way, he made a simple yet powerful point: Value is in the eye of the receiver. Some of Banksy’s customers have previously paid north of $1 million for one of his canvases while these New Yorkers paid the price of a dinner for two at Friday’s.
The event makes an interesting upside-down analogy for customer service. What value a customer perceives he or she is getting from a company is not always congruent with the value the company believes it is giving to the customer. In its landmark survey Closing the Delivery Gap, Bain & Company found that most of the 362 organizations they talked to believed they were delivering great service to their customers. So much so that 80% of them ranked their performance as “superior.” However, only 8% of the customers of those companies felt the same. This isn’t a gap, it’s a chasm.
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Part of the answer as to why this might be happening can be found in a survey from Forrester earlier this year which found that even though companies are offering multiple channels for consumers, there are wide inconsistencies with the information and service levels on those channels. This is clearly driving the disconnect. Just because a company has phone, chat, social, etc. doesn’t mean they are delivering exceptional services in each of these places. The channels may be different but consumer expectations are the same. Banksy has two customers with two different interactions: his street customer and his elite art buyer. And yet, both customers were satisfied with the outcomes.
But how can the chasm be closed? Customers are taking more control of the interactions they have with brands they do business with by making their channel preferences very clear. An increasing number of people now use twitter to resolve issues with companies and they have the same response time expectations that they do when calling on the phone. And more and more, they use several channels to resolve a single issue. Consumers don’t want to feel like a friend over the phone and a stranger on the web.
If a customer gets value from an interaction, regardless of the channel, everyone wins. If one customer comes away happy after talking to a call center agent, (the most expensive channel for a company to operate) and another, like this Netflix customer, comes away equally as happy after a web chat (one of the least expensive channels), aren’t the value of their experiences the same? An omnichannel approach in which customer data is shared and interactions can start on one channel and finish on another ensures customer experience consistency and continuity in their service.