Customer Service should be a human experience. Countless companies have lost sight of that crucial fact, often relying on chat or never-ending touch-tone menus that frustrate customers immensely.
So much so, that those disgruntled customers often choose to take their business elsewhere. Fully automated systems that funnel customers into an endless loop of recordings will certainly negatively impact your bottom line.
Survey Says: Customer Service Needs Improvement
Customer Care Measurement & Consulting (CCMC), a company specializing in customer service research, conducts periodic customer rage surveys. The most recent one from 2020 had some shocking results. The top jaw-dropping stat was that Corporate America is risking $494 billion in revenue by doing customer care the wrong way. The biggest source of rage was wasting time with unsatisfactory results.
- 66 percent of U.S. households experienced a service or product issue in the prior 12 months to taking the survey
- Satisfactory complaint management was associated with high levels of brand loyalty
- Unsatisfactory complaints frequently cost businesses dearly
- Rage is often shared with friends and neighbors – and social media
- 55 percent expect a company response to a complaint posted on social media; only about half will get a response
So, What IS Working?
OTRS Group, the manufacturer and the world’s largest provider of the enterprise service management suite OTRS, recently delved into the customer service management world but from an insider perspective. OTRS surveyed 500 global customer service leaders to find out if and how they are supporting their business’ revenue goals.
- 65 percent of those surveyed said customer service has a significant role in improving retention
- 24 percent stated that automating internal processes has been most successful for helping their organization better communicate with other departments
- 81 percent reported that having access to the right data at the right time yielded better support for customers (40.5 percent said agents have access to complete customer data and 39.31 percent provide context-based information to agents during customer service)
- Speed and consistency are what customers want most
- It is not what you know, but knowing where to find it that makes the difference
Why Effective Customer Service Matters
To state the obvious, poor customer service all but guarantees that you will lose customers. Lost customers mean lost profit. Plain and simple. You must step up and provide your customers with what they want/need quickly and kindly during customer service interactions to keep your customer base happy and thus loyal. Kindness is difficult to gleam from a robotic encounter. While technology is obviously a useful tool, humans should still run the show to provide that individualized touch customers crave.
What You Can Do About It
In today’s increasingly technological world, companies live and die by online reviews; and I am not just referring to Yelp or Google reviews (though those matter, too). I am, of course, referring to social media. As we learned from the rage survey, over half of irate customers who have taken to social media to air their grievances expect a response. Customer service no longer means having agents sitting by a phone waiting for it to ring.
Diversify your customer service workforce with multi-channel support
Sure, phone calls are still important (consider dropping bots or extensive number-selecting systems and picking your friendliest customer service agents for phone duty), but emails, online forums, and social media are also vital to attend to. One negative viral video can be devastating for your company. Meet your customers on their preferred channel of communication for better results.
Provide frequent and effective training for customer service representatives
The best way to feel confident in your team is to carefully select them and then train them! Sounds simple, but often customer service agents are underappreciated, and that lack of attention shows. Untrained agents often escalate the problem which leads to hold times longer and longer – and even a few unfortunate disconnections as undertrained operators fumble to transfer the calls.
You can always monitor overall ticket notes and call data. This gives supervisors insight into how agents are handling situations. From there, they can spend time with agents who need support on assorted topics or in various situations.
Provide knowledge tools
By keeping your knowledge base up to date, customers can use it to find answers for themselves. This is a win-win. Customers are happy they can get the answers they seek quickly and efficiently, and it also frees up your customer service agents to help other customers who may have more complex questions they need answered. Not to mention, agents can use the knowledge database to share facts, solutions, and program details as needed.
Ask for and LISTEN to feedback
It is common for companies to ask customers for feedback, but it is also common for those responses to just be filed away somewhere and never properly addressed. This is a crucial mistake! Listen to your customers and adjust your practices.
It is also an innovative idea to ask your agents to provide feedback; they are the ones interacting with customers day in and day out. They are sure to have some unique perspectives to share with management that will be conducive to happier customers (and employees!) overall.
Asking for and listening to feedback will ensure that the systems you have in place will yield the results you are looking for and boost your company’s overall customer service experience.
While customer service may sound like a small part of your business, those customer service agents are your front lines. They interact directly with your customers daily. They are crucial to success and should be treated as such. Arm them with knowledge and training and then trust them to do their job. It is time to put the “person” back into your company’s “personal responses” to your customers’ problems.
About the Author
John Coggins is Director of Global Business Relationship Management at OTRS Group.
OTRS Group is a service management software developer. Frequently used by ITSM, Corporate Security, or Customer Service teams.