How good – or bad – is your customer service? Does it take 10 days to respond to a web enquiry, as it did for one company we looked at recently? How positive are the reviews left on Trust Pilot, Fefo and the like? Are you available 24/7 on whichever platform the customer prefers?
These are questions that keep many business leaders awake at night, and with good reason. 65% of UK consumers say customer experience is an important factor in purchasing decisions. And a recent study found that CX has overtaken price and product as the most important brand differentiator.
There are three main reasons why customer experience (‘CX’ for short) should be at the very top of a CEO’s worry-list.
PWC recently surveyed 5,000 people in 12 countries. They found that 32% would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience.
It’s bad enough thinking that a third of complainants won’t be coming back. Now consider that fewer than 4% will make the effort to let you know they’re unhappy. Multiply the number of irate customers by 26, then, and you’ll have a good idea of how much business you’re likely to lose this year as a result of bad CX.
Sometimes customers don’t know they’re upset until they talk to you. PWC’s research showed that almost half (46%) will abandon a company if the employees there to support them aren’t knowledgeable enough to help with an enquiry.
Hell hath no fury like a disappointed customer. It’s bad enough that they won’t be spending their money with you again, but they’re not done yet. They have to tell everyone else to steer clear, too.
CX expert Esteban Kolsky has demonstrated the power of the network effect. He reckons 13% of dissatisfied customers will share their experience with 15 or more friends. That’s a lot of negative PR out there among your target audience.
This has been fuelled by the rise of review sites like Trust Pilot and Feefo. Almost two-thirds of customers are likely to leave a negative review following a bad experience. This matters, given that more than half of all prospective customers read online reviews before buying.
Let’s accentuate the positive for a moment. PWC’s research found that customers would happily pay a premium of up to 16% for products and services when they’ve had a positive experience interacting with a company. Crucially, these customers are also far less likely to consider buying from another supplier.
Forward-thinking CEOs look at customer service as an opportunity to build relationships, not a cost to be managed. When American Express realigned its processes, technologies, policies and people around this mindset they saw a 400% increase in customer retention.
3 simple steps to transforming your customer experience
It’s no surprise then that CEOs are spending an increasing amount of time on review sites. Even a solitary negative comment can prompt an urgent email from the top to ‘sort this out, now’.
But ad hoc responses to the odd customer are just sticking plasters. They won’t fix the underlying problems in customer support.
Thankfully, there are a few simple fixes that will transform your customer’s experience for the better.
1. Be proactive
We often act as secret shoppers to put a company’s CX through its paces. One common problem is a reactive approach to customer problem solving. It means the contact centre is flooded with calls that could be better handled through automation.
Whether you’re planning essential maintenance work or delivering parcels, engage with customers on the front foot. Don’t wait for them to come to you asking why your service is down or where their package has gone. Send them messages along the way to manage expectations and avoid frustration.
This has the added benefit of freeing up your agents’ time to focus on more urgent or complex enquiries.
2. Map and mirror the customer journey
The first rule of CX is to see the world through the customer’s eyes. You must plot their journey from pre-sale to purchase and all the way through the lifecycle of the product or service.
Learn when they need help, what they’re looking for and how they want to engage. Only then can you match the right service tool with the right content at the right time and in the right place.
For example, an effective chatbot that’s connected to a decent FAQ should be able to resolve 80% of day-to-day enquiries. SMS and social channels can broadcast time-sensitive information. A team of well-trained customer support staff can then focus on more complicated issues which require a human touch.
3. Get your head in the Cloud
Many businesses are replacing on premise Contact Centre technology with a cloud-based alternative, Contact Centre as a Service, or CCaaS for short. Not only is it more cost effective, it offers far more flexibility. Cloud communications allows businesses to scale faster and with less disruption (and also to downscale operations as needed).
It integrates easily with Microsoft Teams and other collaboration tools. And, because the internet is everywhere and nowhere, you can recruit call centre staff around the world to provide customers with a 24/7 service.
The popularity of review sites has made poor customer service a ticking time bomb inside some companies. But the flip-side is also true: a good customer experience can differentiate brands in a crowded marketplace and help businesses command a juicy price premium.
The first step is to listen to your customers. Websites like Trust Pilot and Feefo are great starting points but you need to go wider and you need to look at ways to allow customers to feedback directly and actively encourage them to communicate both good and bad experiences with your brand.
The key to good CX is to match your customers’ needs to the journey you create for them, organising your company based on how customers like to be served. Then embrace new channels of communication and use them to serve customers with the right content at the right time.
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