Customer Care in the Age of the Customer

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Did you know that over 92% of companies view customer experience as one of their top priorities? And that 60% actually use customer experience success as a competitive differentiator; as a way to stand out from the commoditised sea of commercial products?

In a recent Forrester’s survey, customers using 160 brands across 40 vertical markets were asked three simple questions:

  1. How enjoyable were they to do business with?
  2. How easy were they to do business with?
  3. How effective were they at meeting your needs?

Overall, 53% are disappointed with their experience in using these top brands.

Good customer experiences are good for business

It is accepted that providing good customer service leads to better custom. Remember, its 80% more expensive to gain a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer.

There is also a willingness to consider the company for another purchase; less likelihood of switching business to another competitor; but importantly, a high likelihood that they will recommend you to a friend or colleague. Overall, a good experience directly correlates to a loyal customer who spends more with you.  This correlation appears to cross all 40 verticals surveyed.

So why does over 50% of businesses get it wrong, when 80% of customers say a good experience is what attracts and keeps them as customers?

It’s increasingly difficult to deliver good customer service as the customer service leader must balance customer needs with business needs.  On their plate is revenue, cost and compliance measurements versus customer satisfaction & loyalty.

Information silos

Most companies have a mess of sliced applications and data banks.  In another Forrester survey, over 50% fail in the ability to provide a consistent cross-channel experience to customers. That can mean, a customer hears and sees information differently depending on which channel they use. Information on the web can be different to what an agent tells them on chat or telephone, and different again to what they receive in the post.  There doesn’t appear to be a seamless cross-over from one channel to another – digital or not.

One surveyed company had over 12 different islands of information that had to be accessed a different times by agents depending on what part of the journey their customer was in at any given time.  That’s a lot of information dotted around the place!

Time to be Social

From 2009 to present, new communication channels have emerged, as well as the growth in social & digital channels as a means to interact between customers and businesses. Suddenly huge volumes of enquiries and comments within social networks & channels let to some companies being overwhelmed and unable to cope.

On top of the volume of enquiries, most businesses used their marketers to manage these channels rather than customer service agents. So customers weren’t getting the right answers or level of service that an agent would have otherwise given. It has also been difficult to control and measure SLAs and KPIs based upon the less formalised methods of communicating, such as online services, Twitter or Facebook.

When these newer forms of interacting with customers fails, customers then switch to the traditionally more expensive channels such as phone or email.  These methods require full person support.  The amount of failures isn’t a small figure either – 75% of customer service issues resort back to the traditional method; 67% of research activity; and 61% of purchases.

Bad service cannot be taken likely as it only takes a few bad experiences for word to spread across the digital world.  Regular bloggers and tweeters account for 24% of negative sentiment in a B2C environment, and 37% in a B2B environment.  Those that use reviews within eBay or Amazon account for a huge 73% for B2C and 77% for B2B.  There is no escaping anymore!

Top 12 Trends to Improve the Customer Experience

  1. Understand that your customers expect effortless service
  2. Customer service organisations must adopt a mobile-first mind-set
  3. Use Business Process Management tools to standardise service delivery
  4. Rely on outbound communications to keep your customers in the loop
  5. Invest in proactive engagement
  6. Deliver consistent knowledge strategy across all touch points
  7. Use decisioning to power offers, actions and connections
  8. Listen to your customers and act on their insights
  9. Leverage analytics to improve the end-to-end experience
  10. Realise that an improved agent experience leads to better customer satisfaction outcomes
  11. One way to improve productivity is to use cloud-based solutions
  12. Relevant data at the right time streamlines customer service.

It’s time to focus on people, process and technology to move the needle on online customer service experiences.

  • Customer service strategy should be in line with overall business strategy
  • Understand the customer and how they want to interact with you
  • Use technology that can offer the right service and is future proofed in line with your business growth model
  • Empower the agents with a customer-centric culture – measure and reward them.

 

To understand how Microsoft can help you further your quest for superior customer excellence, take a test drive of Dynamics CRM, a cloud-based solution that manages customer relations effectively to help retain your most important asset – customers.

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