Imagine this: you’ve just been assigned a work project that requires collaboration across departments. You’ve reached out to your point of contact to get the ball rolling, and the two of you have a great kick-off meeting, ending with mutually agreed upon expectations and goals for next steps. When it’s time to regroup, you hear nothing. Just when you think you’ve been ghosted for good, your co-worker responds, passing you off to another individual in the department, leaving you irritated and having to start the project all over again.
Whatever the situation, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting ghosted. While you can’t control whether or not you get ghosted, you can control when and how you respond.
With Halloween upon us, there’s no time like the present to consider the ways you (and your organization) may be ghosting your customers. Too often, customers are forced to wait for unreasonable amounts of time or passed around from department to department with no end – or answers – in sight, hurting both your reputation and bottom line.
“Ghosting” occurs when communication is cut off suddenly and without explanation. In the business world, ghosting can take many forms (e.g. emails or calls aren’t returned or services aren’t delivered as expected), but the consequences are always the same: customers feel ignored and unappreciated, business is lost, and your competitive position suffers.
Here are two recent customer examples that illustrate just how ghosting can affect your business:
• A small business owner was getting ready to open her restaurant and needed Commercial General Liability (CGL) coverage to protect against any unexpected losses. She had already completed the necessary paperwork (e.g. ACORD 126 form, audited financial statements, documents outlining planned business operations) and easily submitted it online, expecting a response within days as was advertised on their website.
One week later, she still hadn’t heard anything. After following up twice, she finally got an automated response and apology citing “unexpected volumes and internal backlog.” The company’s centralized processing center, which included full-time data clerks to manually extract and enter data from key fields, couldn’t keep up.
For the customer, the cause or circumstances didn’t matter. The business had ghosted her, providing a telling preview of what interactions might look like in the future. For the company, it was a broken promise and lost customer due to outdated, manual workflows – factors well within their control.
• At another company (this time a Fortune 500 bank), an individual was trying to open a brokerage account. He completed the application by hand, took a picture with his smartphone and uploaded it to their online portal. When he didn’t hear back, he reached out to customer service, but they had no record or him or his application. The customer was confused and frustrated – he had been ghosted.
What was the explanation? The company still used legacy data capture software to process and transcribe incoming forms. The software couldn’t effectively and reliably process handwriting, and one digit in his phone number had been incorrectly transcribed as a 5 instead of 6. What’s more, the software read part of his email as “d” instead of “cl,” so when the company tried to follow-up, they were unable to do so.
For the customer, it was puzzling – didn’t the bank want his business? For the financial services firm, it was missed revenue due to processing errors and bad data.
What This Means For Your Business
When you ghost your customers with slow response times and poor service stemming from outdated workflows and inadequate technology, your organization loses out on new business opportunities. A 2018 study by NewVoiceMedia found that poor customer experience costs businesses more than $75 billion each year. Additionally, Forrester Research found that customer experience leaders outperform laggards on both stock price growth and total returns.
Could you be ghosting your customers and not even realize it? Watch our on-demand webinar now to learn the warning signs to look for. Gain tips to help ensure you never ghost your customers again!
Copy: Annie Christian, Grant Proctor
Design: James Rivas