A friend of Sam Hirbod, the principal inbound agency strategist at HubSpot, was waiting on hold with his online bank — for 20 minutes. This is a long time to leave anyone in limbo, especially in 2018, and in the course of that time, Hirbod friend’s started conducting searches on Google for a banks with a reputation for faster response times.
“He found another online bank, with great reviews, and was able to become a customer immediately,” Hirbod, who works with HubSpot out of Boston, told a user group based in Toronto Thursday night. “Once the service agent finally got a hold of him, he told them he wanted to transfer all of his money (to the new bank.”
Although it’s a consumer-oriented example, Hirbod suggested B2B firms make similar mistakes in failing to meet their customers and prospects’ expectations. This ranges from being able to engage in their preferred channel to engaging with a company outside of business hours because they found themselves working on a Sunday.
“We see this go wrong all the time,” he said, citing many organizations that have deployed “live chat” options, only to inform customers that no one is available available to get back them in real time. Chatbots can be automated, of course, but Hirbod said companies should still have human beings on hand “for situations that require more emotional intelligence.”
HubSpot has found that automated chatbot work well for conversational content and lead generation activities and even stimulating e-commerce purchases, for example, but less effective for things like billing issues product outages or detailed sales conversations.
In general, Hirbod said companies should be making better use of existing tools such as customer relationship management to pick up conversations they’ve already started with customers through myriad channels. Instead, many organizations continue to act as though they’re encountering customers and prospects for the first time, every time.
“You fill out a form, and then if you go back later in the afternoon, you see a screen asking you to fill out the same information,” he said. “They should know who you are, but they’re not working hard to use their own information — they just want to make you work harder to fill out everything you can.”
A better customer experience would look something like the St. Jude Rock n’ roll marathon in Nashville. Hirbod walked through how those running in the race were sent a digital map prior to the start time, as well as an ability to pre-order beverages to be waiting for them at the finish line. Their friends and family, meanwhile, were given the ability to track their progress versus their competitors. Once the race was over, they found photos readily available on social media, and were sent a discount code for next year’s race within two days.
“If you have a CRM, it’s time to use it more than you did before. A lot of you are sitting on CRMs right now,” he said. “Before contacting them, know if they’ve been on the site, engaged in a sales conversation, joined a webinar or downloaded something. If all you’re looking at is having a contact base for blasting out e-mails, that’s not an approach we see working anymore.”