Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Don't Put Customer Experience on the Backburner

April 09, 2018

Customer service is a popular thing to talk about. But often, as businesses contend with the daily grind of keeping their organizations moving, customer service takes a backseat.

Instead of working to deliver great – or at least good – customer experiences, many businesses today simply outsource customer service, or focus on customer service only when things go bad and customers get mad.

That’s a big mistake, since companies spend big money and significant resources to acquire new customers, as Nadji Tehrani explains in the book, “Taking Your Customer Care to the Next Level.”

Businesses lose nearly $41 billion per year from poor customer relations, according the book. So businesses need to retool their strategies to dedicate more time and effort to retain the customers they already have, says Tehrani, founder of media company TMC.

An Aspect Software study also supports this conclusion. The 2017 Aspect Consumer Experience Index indicates that 54 percent of customers curtail their business with companies due to poor customer service. And the number of people who have stopped doing business with a company because of a poor customer service experience increased last year by 5 points, Aspect says. It adds that the inability to complete a task or answer a question in a satisfactory manner is the top source of consumer frustration.

To deliver better customer experiences, businesses should employ a combination of people, technology, and marketing and engagement initiatives.

Obviously, customer service people should have good communications skills and the personality and tools to help customers quickly, efficiently, and kindly. Businesses need to keep that in mind during hiring, onboarding, and throughout the work lives of their employees.

Businesses need to remind employees of their culture of customer service in all they say and do. Giving employees the latitude to go off script when needed, matching reps with customers based on need and communication style, leveraging AI to more quickly populate agent screens and provide customer information for faster service, and providing customers with personalized attention and offers when appropriate are all good ways to drive customer and employee engagement.

“Hire the right people and then empower them to be creative in support of their company and their customers, rather than micro-policying every moment,” Micah Solomon, a customer service consultant, writes in this Forbes piece.  “And I mean empowerment not as an add-on, but as their job; make it clear to your employees that it is their job to take creative action, without asking permission, to think up the right solutions to issues that couldn’t really be fully encapsulated by a predetermined set of policies anyway. This is how you get the most out of your employees–and how your customers get the most out of your organization.”

Companies like Patagonia and Starbucks also do outreach in their communities and beyond to help customers feel like they’re part of something bigger than just buying outdoor apparel and fancy beverages. For example, Patagonia is a leader in pushing to preserve public lands. And Starbucks has programs through which employees and customers can contribute to their communities.

“Large global chains can garner suspicion and cynicism from customers, who sometimes view them as simple money-making machines,” according to this KPMG nunwood blog. “Starbucks, however, appears to follow-through on its promises. For example, it currently operates a chain of Community Stores, which have been put in place to support non-profit organi[z]ations which are of importance to the local area. It does this by donating up to $0.15 from each Community Store transaction.”

Edited by Mandi Nowitz