What’s in a promise? How your marketing informs our customer support

What is customer promise, and why does it matter? Here’s how the promises you make to your customers inform the customer support service we design for you – and why no two support teams are the same.

“I know good customer service when I see it,” you might say. Most of us would agree. And yet, at 3C Online we are adamant that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all customer service package. In reality, perhaps what you know when you see it isn’t so much the nature of the service itself, but rather how it makes you feel. And that, naturally, will depend on your expectations.

A trusting relationship that meets expectations

Think of it as a relationship. Two people meet and find each other attractive somehow. As they get to know each other and spend more time together, expectations arise. They don’t need to write down the rules and sign agreements, because there are unspoken promises in how they behave and treat each other. If you go on a date and the person you’re seeing is suddenly behaving in a completely unexpected, unpredictable way, it’s unsettling, right? It doesn’t matter whether the behaviour is desirable or not; it’s hard to trust a person who changes suddenly, without explanation.

Say, for instance, that over breakfast, your partner says that he will collect the kids from school. If he forgets, you’ll be upset, and rightly so. But what if his plans change and he can’t make it in time, but he solves the problem flawlessly? A text message to inform you of the change of plan, to say that a last-minute meeting came up but the kids are safe with their auntie, makes sure that you don’t feel let down. He knows you; he doesn’t call, because he knows you’re too busy to answer, and he doesn’t leave a voice memo, because he knows how much it annoys you. But he made sure to let you know.

You could say that your partner kept his promise, because he took responsibility for the situation and made sure that you didn’t need to worry. How did the event make you feel? Like you can trust him. Then you come home to a table set with your favourite dinner, and you feel really special and valued. He hasn’t just kept his side of the bargain – he’s exceeded your expectations.

The clues that design a great service experience

We’ve written before about how we’re the customer support specialists but you know your customers best. What’s more, you know your marketing strategy inside out, and you know what explicit promises you’ve made. Naturally, if the strapline of a recent campaign proudly claims that you’re only ever a phone call away, we need to make sure to be available on the phone to your customers. Equally, though, behaviour analysis might take us down a different path. If one of your key selling points is convenience, we need to be where your customers are – whether that’s Instagram or the FAQ section of your site. If you’ve built your brand on an air of exclusivity and high-brow experiences, we need to watch our language to live up to those expectations.

Good customer service is all about meeting the expectations customers have of you, and those expectations are based on the messages you’ve sent out and the promises you’ve made. What’s in a promise? Quite a lot, it appears. From platform choice to tonality, the clues found in your customer promise are what help us design a great service experience for your customers. And they’ll know it when they see it, because they’ll feel safe and satisfied.