I started thinking last week about how there are certain services that we need periodically in which we are forced to wait for a phone call or be put in a position to call repeatedly in order to find out the status of what we are having done. Some examples of these services could be:
- Having your car repaired
- Waiting for the cable install guy
- Having your computer fixed
- Having things like brochures printed
I don’t like being in the position of waiting for things and not knowing where they are at in the process. There is no transparency into the process, so as a customer you are essentially put in the position of being subservient to the vendor. My thinking is that, no matter what type of vendor you are, people would be more inclined to use you over competitors if they could find out what the status of the job they are having done was without being put in the position of waiting for a person to call them, or dealing with people in an administration type of role that has to get back to you because they do not know what the status of the work is anyway (car dealers are a good example of this).
As a customer, one of the things that I want from service vendors is to know where my stuff is in the process. This could be via a visit to a web site, an RSS feed, or even email and SMS messages letting me know when the work is done or if it has been delayed. I’m thinking of a more granular level of information than what you would get with UPS or FedEx shipment tracking.
Additionally, in areas like car repair, one of the things I would love to have is an itemized list of the parts and labor that I am looking to pay as the work is being done, or the ability to approve work as it is discovered I need additional things done (this could also include an estimate for the work, and an urgency rating so that I have something to judge the work by).
For vendors that provided this kind of additional service that allows me to essentially have a conversation with the people who are actually doing the work, I would be more inclined to use them, as it would put me more in control from an information perspective. I could know where things are without being put in a position of repetitively ‘asking’ whether my stuff is done yet, especially in situations where transportation has to be arranged in order to, say, get home from work.
What do you think? Would you opt for the vendor with more transparency than the one you have to call or wait for to call you? Would you give up the personal contact if you had more real time information? Answer the poll to the top left of this page to let me know.