Customer service is the new battleground. It has become easier than ever for customers to voice their dissatisfaction. And voice it they do:
In short, it is getting harder to satisfy your customers, and easier for them to tell others when you fail. With this trend towards transparency, you would think that industry as a whole would rush to improve. But unfortunately, it can be difficult to understand exactly where you’re going wrong. Implementing the proper multichannel customer experience strategies has never been as important as it is today.
“There's never been more channels for a customer to tell you exactly how they feel. We have to respond to that, and if we don't we won't have a business going forward.”
David Spickett, UK Head of Customer Experience, Thomas Cook (at The Future of Service Conference 2015)
Are you measuring the right things?
It’s not unusual to see performance dashboards remaining green, despite an organisation delivering uninspired – and in some cases terrible – customer service.
’Work harder’ is the mantra often delivered by team leaders, desperate to stem the overflowing tide of complaints from the customer service inbox.
The problem is that no amount of working harder can turn the dashboard any greener. The dashboard remains green because the organisation is measuring the wrong thing. In fact – the metrics and key performance indicators being used may actually be making the matter worse: costing money, causing customer attrition and drawing a veil over your real problems.
Average call handling time is one such example. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes for a moment. When you speak to a call centre, you can often hear the agent rushing once you reach the ninety second mark. Why? To meet a KPI set by the business.
In the worst cases, customers will be fobbed off, or even cut off, without a proper solution to their problem.
Website FAQs are another. Any form of self-serve only works if it’s done properly, comprehensively, and built around the customer’s desired journey. If it’s not right for your customers, poorly designed or with any points of failure, you will see an increase in call volumes and your customer satisfaction will drop through the floor.
Are your channels joined up?
In-channel experiences are one thing. You can have the perfect call-handling scripts, or the most beautiful website user journey, but if you don’t replicate that experience across channels it will infuriate your customers.
Nobody wants to apply for something online only to be referred to a call centre agent who asks for all the same information. Nobody wants to have to go into a branch or store to complain because the online assistant couldn’t answer their query. And nobody wants to have to print, sign and post something as part of an ‘online’ application.
Not being joined up is a common issue. Many organisations have evolved over time with departments springing up around new business functions and channels – and, in some cases, additional teams to deal with the problems this causes!
If you have a digital function that doesn’t talk to your call centre, or a social media team that doesn’t interact with your branches, or a mailing/fulfilment system that isn’t integrated with your CRM, then you have a potential problem.
In order to mitigate these problems, organisations have to learn to collaborate around the customer journey.
The irony of bad customer service is that it isn’t just bad for the customer. It’s also not just bad for your NPS scores, your retention levels, or revenue potential. It’s actually costing you money.
Every time a customer isn’t able to make the purchase they want to, resolve the complaint they have, or obtain the information they need at the very first touch – you are dealing with ‘failure demand’.
Taking the average call handling time example – people might end up calling back several times. This is taking up both your time, but also your capacity. By resolving the customer query correctly the first time around, you could actually reduce the resource you need to interact with customers.
Many people will see familiarity in the above situations. The good news is these problems can be fixed. The bad news is – this can be hard. So, where do you start?
- Design the right measures – think ‘quality’ and ‘customer outcomes’. By having the right measures you can achieve better customer satisfaction and save money
- Join up your channels – think about how your business units, functions, or departments can collaborate together to deliver a common purpose
- Walk in the customer’s shoes – think about how a customer really interacts with your organisation. 90% of time it won’t be the way your business is set up
Read more on how to improve your multichannel customer experience.