My sister booked separate online flight tickets with AirAsia months ago for a trip with my mom. Since one of the flights was canceled, she needed to rearrange the schedule for her way back. What surprised her most was that she couldn’t change it online, she unavoidably must go through steps of contacting the airline to change the itineraries of both people, which was much more time-consuming and tedious than she had thought. To her biggest disappointment, the airline didn’t have a phone line to support her case so submitting an e-form is what she did initially, but it took at least 5 business working days to get a response. At the fifth day, she couldn’t wait so she used the second method called Live Chat. And in order to get through to the customer service representative (CSR), you would be placed in a virtual waiting room for about 30-45 minutes with around 100 people. After talking to the CSR, she received a call from the airline on the same date, they changed her flight, but unluckily they didn’t change my mother’s flight even though the case was always explained clearly every time it was explained to a CSR. So after queuing two more times, filling a feedback form and not hearing anything from the airliner, now she decided to push it further, it was when she was writing a long and harsh comment on its Fanpage on Facebook, they sent my mom’s new itinerary in time before she hit the comment button.
Gone with the days when visiting the companies’ offices was the only way to get your problems solved. Now we are living in the digital age which implies a high demand of everything digital. My sister’s story reveals not only the increasing expectation of instantaneity and optimization of process when dealing with customers.
The most influenced by this changing customer behaviors are probably customer service and marketing. Different customers are accessing the companies in different ways and through different platforms, as such, customer service department must always address to the complexity by building access points throughout the purchasing process. Some are innovating their sales support line by incorporating new methods of serving customers such as online chat or automatic answering system. It seems that everything they are doing is right, yet, only one thing wrong here, they doesn’t take into account the capability to attend customers in the fastest way possible. Users are getting used to the fact that everything they want or desire will be at their finger tips with new technologies and any organizations doesn’t adjust their businesses to cater to these needs will be drowned in the sea of almost similar services. For the AirAsia case, they are building multiple platforms, but it doesn’t prove their well-preparedness to truly transform customers’ experience. So my thought is simply if we can’t do it, then go with the old-school way until we master the notion of speed among new generations of customers.
Similar the customer support, marketing departments must also be aware of the gratification gained from instantaneity. Developing multiple online profiles are one of the easiest ways to update customers immediately about any breaking news or daily offers but this convenience doesn’t come at no costs. Today customers are empowered with the ability to share and to feedback on companies’ products and services on various social platforms (the fact that I am sitting here and writing about my sister’s experience has been one of it!). The danger of SNSs is the possible epidemic arisen from any intentional or unintentional posts. People love to be updated and love to be shared so that’s how it works in this networked world and until now, you probably figure it out how negative the companies’ images may be viewed by their prospects. The damage may go far beyond what you imagine about things that could possibly happen in the first place.
Technology is undoubtedly everything impactful, but simultaneously a double-edged sword for any businesses who wish to enter this digital marathon for customers’ satisfaction resulting from instant gratification.