This week’s article takes a look at one way in which direct marketing can encompass elements of the online customer experience that are often ignored.
Let me proudly introduce the Internet’s 350th acronym of the week: M.O.S.T.
M.O.S.T. stands for ‘My Outstanding Service Team.’
Imagine for a moment that you have an online store that sells organic munchies for dogs. You sell them by the bag, by the crate — even in gift baskets. And you sell a lot of them (in all 20 different flavors, shapes, colors and sizes).
Of the 5,000 packages you send out by UPS each week, a certain percentage generates an inquiry, complaint or return request. This is inevitable.
Being smart, you try to minimize the number of phone calls that you and your staff must answer in person in order to reduce your costs. So you have a comprehensive FAQ area on the site, and you have an automatic email reply system that handles most inquiries with the minimum of human intervention.
After all, one of the benefits of an Internet-based business is that you can cut down on the cost of bricks, mortar and carbon-based lifeforms.
But the automation of customer service has one major drawback. Automation excludes people. And people add some interesting elements to customer service.
Like laughter. Sympathy. Understanding. Trust. Warmth. Sincerity.
All the stuff that humans do so well, but computers do so poorly.
Here’s where M.O.S.T. — the customer service invention of the day — steps in.
We’ll put M.O.S.T. to work on three levels.
First, as an example, we’ll allocate a real human being to every 100th sale or email inquiry.
Let’s say customer number 100 buys a bag of organic munchies. Instead of the usual email being sent out to confirm the order, someone from the M.O.S.T. group picks up the phone and calls the customer (assuming you have their phone number).
“Good morning Mrs. Grey. How are you today? Thank you so much for ordering organic crunchies with us. So how’s the weather down in South Carolina this week?”
If you don’t have a phone number, the team member sends a very personal email.
The purpose? To surprise, engage and delight as many customers as you can with an unexpected personal touch. The ‘ROI’? Good news travels fast on the Internet.
Now for M.O.S.T. at its second level.
This is where you use the human touch to go way beyond your usual level of service.
Here’s an example. An email comes in that complains about a bag of crunchies that has been crushed to bits in transit. The ‘manual’ says send an email apology and rush out a replacement bag immediately. But with M.O.S.T. intervention, you send out five replacement bags by overnight courier and include an apology card that is signed by five people from your fulfillment area. You go a long way when you go above and beyond.
The costs of this level of service is prohibitive, which is why you only do it from time to time.
Is this kind of approach unusual? In the offline world, no. Online, I think it is. So far.
But we’re not finished yet. M.O.S.T. has a third level.
The M.O.S.T. group is not made up of people who are employed to do this stuff fulltime. M.O.S.T. is made up from a rotation of employees within the company and includes everyone — from the CEO to the janitor. Everyone has to do a couple of days of M.O.S.T. duty each month.
Because in a virtual business, it’s all too easy to think that your business is built on bits and bytes, instead of people. And that’s not right.
In fact, I would also include some key outside contractors within the M.O.S.T. rotation.
Make sure that the guy who writes the automated emails also gets to speak and listen to real people’s complaints and problems. See if you can get your regular UPS truck driver to take part. And how about the guy who watches out for your server?
Seems to me that involving as many people as possible would be a good thing.
And I’d wager that the more you bring your teams into one-on-one contact with your customers, the more personal and customer-centric all your direct marketing and sales activities will become.
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