Yesterday afternoon, I had an interesting but rather sad conversation with a friend of mine. Don’t worry, it wasn’t like somebody dying sad or euthanizing your pet sad. It was more of a bad customer experience sad.
Customers are kings
What are businesses without their customers? Your customers or clients (whatever terminology you prefer – I will stick with customers) are the most important part of doing business. They are the reason why you wake up in the morning or work 10+ hours shifts to do what you do. Without them, you could just sleep till kingdom come because you will be out of business. Many organizations out there understand the importance of their customers and the purpose to fulfil their customers’ needs.
They put a lot of effort into fulfilling that need and some go the extra mile to outdo their promises. To give more than their customers are asking for, staying a couple of steps ahead of them. Organizations dedicate whole departments to customer services, CRMs, etc. and yet, important aspects such as customer retention, engagement, and satisfaction still come short.
We are living in times when consumers are more willing and faster to switch brands than models changing outfits during fitting. It’s the era of the internet. Alternatives are around every corner and the term ‘customer loyalty’ is taking a whole new meaning.
Customer satisfaction is amongst other things the most predominant factors responsible for the success (or failure) of any business. Which is why it is important to keep track of this and find ways to keep improving it. A satisfied customer is not only more loyal to you, but he/she also turns into a cost-free brand ambassador.
If you treat them like family, give them a sense of belonging, they will build trust in you and that is the foundation of every strong relationship. Once your customers have trust in you, they will not be able to help themselves but sing your praises whenever your brand or product’s name comes up. They will sing your praises even better than Beyoncé sings hallelujah!
I know at this point you are probably wondering why am I lecturing you about the importance of customers, their satisfaction, and whatnot, considering I introduced this post with having a sad conversation with a friend. Well, my introduction and all the things I have mentioned have a lot in common. And also, did I mention this story has a happy ending? So please, stay with me because I am yet to unveil the secret called iLost.
The story/ the experience
So, here is what happened. I was home when I received a phone call from my friend. She sounded serious. I could tell she was worried by the sound of her voice. She had forgotten her compact mirror on the bus she frequently takes to and from work. I know you might think it’s just acompact mirror. But with this one in particular she had an emotional attachment. It was given to her by her grandma shortly before she passed away a few years ago. She told me with certainty that she had forgotten it on that bus because she didn’t go anywhere else after work. She realized that it was gone, minutes later when she was already home.
Fast-forward, I offered to assist her in the retrieval. The first thing we did was to check on the website of the bus company about lost and found items – there was nothing about that on there, so we called their office and after being on hold for roughly 20 mins, they were no help either. All they could say is ‘come by the station, as we have a box full of lost and found items. If the bus employee found your stuff, then it will be in there.’ We frequented that office and fingered that box for a week straight. Thankfully, we found her compact mirror.
Even though we found her compact mirror, I still think that the way they handle their lost and found items is just wrong. It is such a hassle and frustration to retrieve your lost item. During this process, I was on the internet searching for lost and found offices in our area. The thought was that maybe someone found her compact mirror and handed it over to a local office. There was no luck on that end either, but I stumbled upon a great company that provides software that helps companies to effectively manage the found items on their establishments, buses, trains, etc.
The company is called iLost. I also have to mention that at the time, I was searching for a graduation internship. Fortunately for me, they had an open internship position but not with a graduation assignment. Fast-forward a couple of emails and phone calls later, they decided to put together a rewarding and challenging assignment and bring me on board (see my previous blog post for more about that).
What is iLost
iLost is an online platform providing management software to companies in a vast variety of fields ranging from public transportation to hotels, airports, universities, hospitals, museums, and even municipalities. The software helps you effectively manage the found items on your premises. It will make connecting found items with their rightful owners look like child’s play (and no, I don’t get paid for saying this hahaha…).
How it works
Returning found items to their rightful owners is a customer service that cannot be undermined. It is the little things that build strong bonds. The software that iLost provides as a service, will facilitate the whole process for you and besides saving you time, it will cut your amount of phone calls in half! The only thing your employees will have to do is to take a picture of the found item, upload it, and add a description of the item. As easy as posting a picture on Instagram.
Using the iLost widget every found item is directly visible on the website of your company. This way, your customers can check all found items by themselves from every corner in the world. With the help of advanced filters such as keywords, dates, etc, they can identify their lost possessions with ease. All they will need is a device with internet access, and they are good to go.
Once they have identified their lost property, the last step will be to claim it by describing characteristics of the item. This claim will be checked with the description provided, and if it is a match they will be notified. The only tough decision to be made will be whether to pick up the item in person or let it be delivered back home. P.S. No login required.
Steps towards having an effective lost and found process
I cannot stress this enough. The little things are those that make all the difference! Having a warehouse, room, or a box full of found items is good but not enough. Half of these things never make it back to their rightful owner. This can be very frustrating for your customers hence damaging your image in their face. A bundle of reasons could be responsible for that, but we can not also neglect the fact that systems like that are not effective.
Instead of telling your customers how much you appreciate them, how much they mean to you, what customer loyalty tricks you have in place – show them how much you care! Show them why they matter, show them that you care as much about their stuff as they do. At the end of the day, that is what matters. That is what they will remember because actions speak louder than words.
You have to be proactive! You have to recognize lost and found as a serious process within your company. This step will create engagement within your organization and will also enforce the responsibilities of the employees assigned to it.
Choose a lost and found management software
After you’ve established the importance of the lost and found process within your organization, you will have to choose or better yet, acquire a lost and found management software. The software that iLost provides, for example, is a perfect fit with a 24/7 online service. With everything being online nowadays, iLost brings your lost and found department to the homes of your customers.
Setting up a system like this does not only put you steps ahead of your competitors but also strengthens the bond between you and your customers. Every time, your customers will literally be one click away from getting their minds blown by how easy it is to get reunited with their lost possessions.