Importance of Customer Service
There is no question that quality customer service is vital to the success of an organization, as it is often the only direct contact a consumer has with a company. Loyal customers will often spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on a desired product or brand, and if an issue arises, they expect to receive a premium level of customer service.
A business with an excellent customer standing is far more likely to be noticed among competitors who offer similar products, services, and prices. Without content customers, a company loses a large sense of stability and esteem within its industry.
Behind the Statistics
Did you know that U.S. companies lose approximately $41 billion annually due to poor customer service practices?
According to McKinsey and Company, 70 percent of all buying experiences are now rated by how well the customer deems they’ve been treated; and it can take 12 positive customer service experiences to counteract one negative one.
A recent Aspect Consumer Experience Survey reported that 76 percent of consumers believe that customer service is the ultimate way to test the degree to which they are valued by a company or business. Additionally, 45 percent of customers could not recall having a recent successful customer experience. Thirty-five percent reported experiencing slow response times, and 30 percent of participants stated that the representative they spoke to seemed poorly trained.
Furthermore, thirty-one percent of respondents stated that the customer service representative (CSR) was not empowered to offer the correct assistance, with 29 percent indicating that they received inaccurate or conflicting information after speaking with different CSRs within the same company.
Explaining the Shift
It is undeniable that the standards of customer service expectations have increased noticeably in recent years. This is likely due to the gradual but significant changes in eCommerce, which has lead to a massive boost in online shopping — where everything a customer needs is readily available through the click of a mouse or touch of screen. It has been estimated that 205 million U.S. citizens shopped online as recently as 2015. If a customer can browse, pay for, and arrange for shipping through one website, they also expect that same website to be equipped with access to an active and helpful customer service department, should their product arrive late or damaged.
Customers know that today’s companies are typically plugged in and connected to their customer base via social media and the web in general; therefore, they see no justifiable excuse for delayed response times or lack of information from customer service representatives.
What can companies do to ensure they are keeping up with today’s consumers’ most common expectations?
Listen to your customers and respond quickly.
This does not only include customer inquiries and complaints filed directly through customer service representatives, but customer surveys, as well. When you ask customers to provide their honest feedback, pay attention to what they actually have to say, and respond to their concerns in a timely manner. In general, an appropriate response time is 24 hours or less.
Provide more personalized customer service.
Despite the fact that most business transactions today take place online and not “in person”, consumers still want highly personalized service. Some customers prefer to speak directly to CSRs to state their concerns in detail, and they expect that these employees will, at the very least, provide information as to how their concerns will be ultimately addressed. Prompt responses and use of friendly and personable dialogue during transactions will help businesses build stronger relationships with customers. For consumers who use online services, business should make use of predictive and personalized technology. Making virtual forms and applications available to online customers creates an expeditious, trouble-free experience for the customer.
Allow customers more opportunities to connect with your company.
While some customers are satisfied with automated telephone services, many prefer to connect through the use of their laptop or smart device. Businesses should research the many ways they can make themselves available to their consumers through specialized apps, embedded widgets, live chat options, and social media messaging; and subsequently provide customers with alternative ways of contacting them. It must be noted, however, that even the most cleverly advanced communication methods are only as effective as the quality and speed of the response received by the customer.
Follow up with your customers.
Most consumers dislike being bombarded with endless advertisement emails on a regular basis; however a certain level of productive and reasonable communication may be welcome at certain times. There are many businesses that don’t contact their customers beyond advertising, yet following up with a customer after a completed transaction is indicative of a company who cares about the customer’s satisfaction with their product. Additionally, loyal customers appreciate notifications and updates on products and services they have purchased or frequently use, and welcome useful information, such as contract renewals or maintenance schedules. Allowing customers to sign up for email updates or text alerts permits them to remain up to date on their own terms.
Ensure that your front-liners can address customers’ concerns.
Today’s customers certainly do not want to speak to an entire hierarchy of employees before their issue can be addressed. Rather, they expect the first CSR who answers their call or responds to their email or live chat session to possess the necessary knowledge and authority to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, many businesses continue to withhold this authority from front-line CSRs, causing a longer turn-around time for responses, as well as a greater sense of customer frustration. Companies need to provide their CSRs with more detailed protocol training, instead of consistently directing front-liners to turn issues over to a higher level representative. However, a skilled supervisor or manager should always be on hand to immediately address extreme or complex customer issues.
In a culture of instant gratification, it’s only natural that the customers of today expect immediate results. Yet, although the vast majority of company leaders agree that providing excellent customer service is top priority, implementing the necessary procedures has not been an easy task; as few companies have actually invested sufficient resources toward improving the customer experience. Dedicating a portion of your budget toward proper customer service training will ensure that you and your associates are capable of isolating and applying suitable customer-friendly protocols. This, in turn, should lead to larger returns at the end of the fiscal year. Customer analytics software can also assist with accurately identifying the habits, patterns, and preferences of your consumer base.
Despite the recent upward shift in customer expectations, positive consumer interactions have always been, and always will be, a fundamental building block of any company. Outstanding customer experiences often lead to complementary reviews and referrals, which is the most effective way to grow your business.
Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.