You don’t need to conduct in-depth research to know that the top two complaints about calling a customer service line are long hold times and having to repeat an issue multiple times. Just in case you are the type that enjoys numbers, Accenture Global Customer Pulse Research found that 91 percent of consumers were frustrated by the former and 81 percent the latter.
Here’s one stat you may not already know, though: According to Forrester Research’s North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2013, over 75 percent of customers believe valuing their time is most important. Customer service expert, Shep Hyken, agrees the best service strategy involves valuing a customer’s time. If a company made it a priority to make customers feel that their time is valued, that would probably involve shortening call hold times by utilizing a scalable outsourced agents model during peak call times and eliminating the need for customers to repeat themselves by having a single, multichannel desktop that provides a 360 degree view of the customer. By eliminating the top two complaints about customer service, a brand is already well on their way to improving customer experience in all three areas. Easy enough, right?
Perhaps these two are a given. So what are other, less obvious ways that brands can make a big impact on customer experience and ensure customers feel their time is valued?
1. Anticipate the Need
Brands that are active on social channels are able to listen and understand their customers better. Customers often take to message boards, Twitter or Facebook when they experience an issue with a product or a service. They may even turn to their peers first to try to resolve an issue with some troubleshooting advice. Proactive social listening enables brands to identify minor issues or complaints even when the customer is not addressing the brand directly. Brands can then proactively reach out to customers and remedy an issue before it has the opportunity to escalate into a real problem.
Social listening also offers the ability to identify new needs or demands in the marketplace. Through quiet observation brands are able to glean information about what their customers need or want. These insights provide guidance for business decisions and production, and can inspire new products or enhancements to current offerings.
Though many brands have shied away from social channels, those that have embraced it are benefiting two-fold. They are able to mitigate customer dissatisfaction and gain invaluable insights into the future direction of the market – both of which save customers time and energy.
2. Save the Sales Pitch
Customer retention should always be a priority, but sometimes you need to know when you have to cut your losses. When a customer contacts a brand with an issue, it must be quickly and efficiently resolved first and foremost, and it must be accepted that not every interaction is an opportunity to increase the bottom line. All too often brands are so focused on retaining a customer, upselling or cross-selling that the quality of service quickly plummets. Customers are frequently made to feel as though they are not being heard or merely seen as a dollar sign. Sometimes gracefully bowing out is the best way to save the customer in the long run. Perhaps you miss out on this particular sale, but fighting to keep a customer tooth and nail is a sure fire way to end the relationship for good.
3. Follow-Through and Follow-Up
It goes without saying that any promises made should be kept, but I cannot count the number of times I had to contact a brand repeatedly regarding a problem. This is a common enough issue for others. If a customer has to follow-up with a brand, that brand has failed. The onus of follow-up should always fall upon the brand and ultimately completes the interaction by finishing the communication loop. Pick up the phone or send a quick email to thank them for their business, make sure their purchase is working out and ask for feedback. This provides customers with the opportunity to ask a brand questions directly before any frustrations arise. Or take to the social airwaves to illustrate your appreciation with a quick Tweet or Facebook comment. It is important to always keep the line of communication open and be available for to customers on the channel of their preference.
These best practices may seem obvious, but brands often lose sight of the simple things. Following these tips can easily set a brand apart from the competition, improve customer experience and, most importantly, ensure customers feel both they, and their time, are valued. Shep Hyken summarized this concept perfectly when he said: “Value my time and you value me. It’s part of delivering amazing service.” We couldn’t agree more.
Photo Credit: Shep Hyken