The Incomplete Answer

I recently wrote about the expected experiences gap, where the customers’ expectations—based on the experiences they have with their favorite companies—are higher than what they receive from the company they are currently doing business with.

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We heard from one of our Shepard Letter subscribers, Jared Lender, who gave us another example of a gap, one that results from incomplete information. In other words, it’s the gap between the answer the customer received the first time they asked and the answer they should have received.

This may have happened to you. You reach out to a salesperson or customer support agent with a problem or a question. They give you an answer, but you find yourself having to reach out again—only to find out there was more to the answer than what they originally told you. That’s exactly what happened to Jared, although he didn’t call back—the gap in information caused him to walk. Here’s the short version of the story.

After searching a company’s website for video tutorials on how to use their products, Jared reached out to them through their contact form with a question. He asked, “Do you know of any videos or instructions that can help get me going on a project?”

Several hours later the company’s customer service rep responded, “There are several videos about using our parts and products. They are posted by customers. Thank you for your interest.”

Good to know! There are videos posted by customers. However, it would have been nice to know where to find those videos. Jared immediately recognized the gap between a complete answer and the answer he received. Where were those videos? Were they on the company’s website? Were they on YouTube? Why couldn’t the customer service rep give Jared the links to the videos?

The answers to those questions don’t really matter. What does matter is that the answer caused additional friction for Jared—and potentially for the agent, as well. First, the answer could have sent Jared on a time-consuming search for the videos. Second, the answer could have caused Jared to reach out a second time with a follow-up question, requiring the agent to complete the response they should have shared in the first interaction. The result is a waste of time for both.

When there is a problem or question, take the time to answer it thoughtfully and completely. Ask the customer if they understand your response and if they have any other questions. In short, be proactive about giving a complete answer—the answer the customer deserves the first time they ask.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXX, Shep Hyken)

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