Focusing on customer satisfaction is a no-brainer for every organization. But if you truly want to build long-lasting relationships with our customers, we need to humanize our interactions.
Our organizations are obsessed with customer satisfaction. Maybe too obsessed.
It’s pretty clear why, judging from the research. Customers who receive the best experiences spend 140% more than those with who receive the poorest ones. And far from being cost-prohibitive, providing superior customer experience actually reduces the cost of serving customers by as much as 33%. Continue reading →
We’re losing our ability to listen. This potential crisis threatens our relationships with our customers, organizations, families and entire nations. Here’s what we can do about it.
The art of listening is under attack.
This skill, among the most important we as humans possess, is getting drowned out from all sides: Increasing noise levels, myriad distractions, shorter attention spans and more people who just want to hear themselves talk. Continue reading →
Today’s consumers increasingly demand customer service on their terms. Maybe it’s time to follow the example of Dutch airline KLM and get more familiar with one of the customer service apps that does it all.
We all know that customers have different preferences for how they want to access customer service. Some want to dial a number while others prefer to type out an email, use an app or visit our website.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was just one app that could accommodate every possible customer-service preference?
In an environment where 80% companies say they deliver outstanding service while just 8% of their customers agree, organizations are turning to big data to provide a better, more personalized service experience.
We’ve all heard of “big data”. It’s the combination of powerful algorithms and vast troves of random data that enables us to predict hurricanes, prevent diseases, fight crime and do lots of other worthwhile things.
But using it to improve customer service?
Absolutely. Big data is the next frontier in customer service, and certainly a worthwhile one – especially since 80% companies say they deliver outstanding service but just 8% of their customers agree. Continue reading →
Get ready for the next big thing in customer service: Virtual reality. By bridging the gap between self-serve and representative-based options, it promises to revolutionize the way we interact with tomorrow’s organizations.
In the near future, the person we turn to for help fixing our computer or how to assemble our IKEA furniture may not be a person at all.
It may be a computer-generated avatar – one that knows a whole lot about us and will be able to effortlessly guide us through complicated processes that previously required human interaction.
At least it appears we’re heading in that direction. Self-serve customer service is already here and knowledge bases are all over the Internet, which makes virtual reality customer service the next logical step. Continue reading →
In the quest to reduce costs, many organizations are automating customer service functions. But removing the human element from customer service can be bad for business. Here’s why.
I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard.
I was on the exhibition floor at Enterprise Connect Conference in Orlando in March last year, when I overheard a marketing executive proudly announce, “We’re automating 97% of our customer service functions….” Continue reading →
In the debate about which area of the organization creates the most value, customer service rarely ever makes the short list. But it should, and here’s why.
“Anyone who thinks every day or every call is just like the previous one obviously hasn’t put on one of these headsets.”
That comment, one of several shared with me by the head of a customer service department, dispels misconceptions and sheds light on a vital component of our organizations – one that operates largely in the shadows and often doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves.
The fact is, customer service reps are the unsung heroes of our organizations. They’re the corporate equivalent of army Special Forces – the ones we rely on to fix something that’s gone wrong and prevent it from getting worse. They toil behind the scenes, in near anonymity, rarely receiving even a sincere thank you.
“Forget about the script; there isn’t one. We’re talking about people, not robots.”
Contrary to what we, the ones on the other end of the line, may believe, customer service jobs are hardly routine. While there are similarities among the issues they face, no two interactions are the same – or the solutions required. Service reps don’t sleepwalk through the day by or applying a standard template to resolving issues. Sure, they use scripts, but only for training and beginners. Mastering their craft requires plenty of practice, rehearsing particular types of calls and listening to recordings of good and bad conversations, all to learn and improve.
The average customer service representative resolves more than 30 issues a day, which takes up about three-and-a-half hours. The rest of the day is spent meticulously documenting issues raised and solutions offered, lest they appear again. The average call lasts about six minutes, and each must be resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
In their jobs, time is of the essence. Among customers’ biggest complaints is the all-too-familiar message that says, “All of our representatives are busy….” By the time they reach a representative, customers want their issues resolved – immediately. Service reps need to create on-the-spot solutions, and without the benefit of time to analyze, take polls or deep-dive into research. They possess the vital human touch that’s vital to quick problem-solving. Their decisions are based upon equal parts training, experience, instinct and savvy.
They have the resources to do their jobs, but not much more. On average, organizations dedicate just 12% of their marketing budget to satisfying existing customers.
“When you’ve worked an eight-hour shift in this job, you know it.”
Reps are keenly aware that they represent the “face” of the brand. Although not necessarily part of the job description, they need to stay upbeat and positive. That’s because 73% of consumers note that friendly customer service representatives can actually help them fall in love with a brand.
Customer service jobs are challenging and mentally taxing. Not only do service reps defuse difficult situations, they also make the complex simple, explain, counsel, reassure or just listen and empathize.
They’re true value creators within our organizations.