Challenge: At a time when good customer service would be assumed to be a core competency, why are so many companies still not delivering good to excellent customer service? What needs to be done differently?
As marketers adopt new and more sophisticated technologies and methods for servicing customers, you would assume that we've gotten to the point where a satisfactory customer service experience would be a given.
However, this is too often not the case. Here's how things went in my own recent experience with a major online movie-viewing service.
Abrupt email from the company:
What is the problem and how would you rate our customer service?
I entered my credit card information into my account several weeks ago. I still cannot charge a movie.
My original request was on February 25. Today is March 15. No one ever responded to my repeated emails and voice mail messages.
Given the above, how would you rate your customer service?
They never replied.
Based on similar instances we have all experienced, following is a question every company should consistently ask themselves -- "Why isn't our customer service better?"
According to a Forrester study, "Top Trends For Customer Service In 2014" the following are high-value areas for customer service improvement;
• Anticipate the what, when, where and how for customers, and prioritize information and functionality to speed customer time-to-completion.
• Investigate methods to recommend "next-best actions" during the service resolution process to offer service tailored to the customer's unique needs.
• Make experiences consistent. Forrester observes that 60 percent of companies gather feedback about their interactions with a company; however only 33 percent analyze customer insight across organizational boundaries.
According to a Tempkin Study, What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience, 2014, it was noted that:
• More than half of the customers who encountered a bad experience... either decreased their spending with the company or stopped altogether.
• Data shows that a good service recovery effort can help mitigate a bad experience. Unfortunately, many firms...aren't very good at service recovery.
• After a bad experience, 60 percent tell a friend directly, 31 percent share on Facebook, and 20 percent write a review.
1. Understand what customers want in a good customer service experience. How do our customers define good customer service? If you do not fully comprehend what customers want from you, it is impossible to deliver a good experience.
2. Regularly monitor practices to be sure that they are in line with current customer demands. Are your customer service policies outdated? Set a regular interval to monitor your company policies and employee practices to be certain they meet the expectations of customers.
3. Get buy in at all levels for your customer service initiatives. It does not matter how many policies are put in place if these policies are not put into everyday practice at every level and every point of contact within your company. Consistency in customer experience is key.
4. Develop a "listening" strategy to monitor customer conversations. If you do not know what customers are saying about your company it will hurt you. If you do not have a social media team now is the time to start one. Active listening will allow you understand the challenges that customers face and respond quickly.
5. Make contact easy. Are customers able to contact you for service related matters across all channels? If not, then expand your accessibility. Customers do not want to work to find solutions to their problems or get their questions answered.
Ernan Roman is recognized as a Customer Experience innovator and was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame for creating three transformational methodologies: Voice of Customer Relationship Research, Integrated Direct Marketing, and Opt-in Marketing.
He was also named by Crain's B to B Magazine as one of the "100 most influential people in Business Marketing".
His latest book on marketing best practices is titled, : Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.
Ernan is also the author of the widely read blog, "Ernan's Insights on Marketing Best Practices", (www.erdm.com), and author of "Opt-in Marketing" and "Integrated Direct Marketing".
ERDM's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, NBC Universal, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Symantec.
As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based strategies, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with customers and prospects of these clients to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high value customer relationships.