One of the biggest and easiest ways of winning lifelong customer loyalty is providing stellar customer service. Learn what works and what doesn't here.
- Customer service is at the heart of every business for its long-term success. Every business needs to build a good relationship with its customers to maintain its sales.
- Brand loyalty is built around good customer service. Customers have choice and often these choices are centered around experiences.
- Good customer service is an essential marketing tool. News on good service spread fast and increase sales through repeat customers and new customers.
Customer satisfaction is one of the most important determinants of brand loyalty. High-quality service can be the difference between a one-time buyer and a lifelong repeat customer.
But not every company does a good job of retaining its customers. NICE inContact Inc., a provider of cloud contact center software, workforce optimization and analytics, surveyed more than 700 consumers to identify gaps in customer satisfaction across 10 different customer service channels. The results found that, overall, customers are not getting the resolution they are looking for.
"With eight in 10 customers saying they'd switch to a competitor due to poor customer service; businesses can't afford not to focus on providing consistent, positive touch points along the entire customer journey," said Paul Jarman, CEO of NICE inContact. "Whether it is on the phone, via email or online chat, businesses need to ensure they're resolving customer issues as quickly as possible. [Doing so] leads to positive customer experiences and brand loyalty."
How can you accomplish this as a small brand? Here's what inContact found about consumers' likes, dislikes and expectations when it comes to customer service, and what you can do to cater to those needs. [Want to provide better customer service? Avoid these key mistakes.]
Offer the human touch
The study revealed that speaking to a live person is still the most preferred way to deal with customer service – less than half (45%) of respondents are satisfied with communication through agent-assisted and self-service channels.
As businesses today explore and adopt automation technologies to improve contact center operations, they need to consider strategies and solutions where technology can augment human interactions – not replace them – in order to ensure fluidity between channels.
Move customers out of email and interactive voice response channels quickly
According to inContact, IVR and email have the lowest consumer performance ratings, and elicit the strongest emotions of anger, disgust and frustration.
Consumers reported that these channels are less personalized, slow and do not provide complete information, and that the phone is the most preferred and effective method of communication. Specifically, the survey revealed that email is the least effective method of resolution, with over one-third reporting the issue as "still ongoing" or "nothing more the company can do."
Keep customer data at your fingertips
InContact's survey shows that consumers, particularly millennials, expect brands to know their purchase history, be proactive and have seamless omnichannel integration. Use CRM software and big data to your advantage, and ensure that you have access to as much customer information as possible when interacting with someone.
Prioritize pathways to quick resolutions
The biggest driver of channel performance and customer satisfaction is how quickly a question or issue is resolved. InContact found that customers want companies to direct them to the quickest path of resolution.
One of the key points of frustration of customers is being directed to the incorrect service path, most often when customers call in and are asked to press a certain number based on their request. Unclear descriptions result in customers having to call in multiple times and add to their frustration.
Examples of bad customer service
Lack of real-time support
Customers expect real-time resolution to their concerns and queries. It is essential to ensure that business channels for customers give feedback are always available. If that isn't feasible for your small business, include a chatbot on your website that can offer real-time support.
Failure to resolve issues with the first touch point.
Customers consider it bad customer service when their issues are not resolved from the first touch point. An organization should identify the most frequent customer concerns and have a way of resolving their issues from one point. For instance, use live engagement tools such as video chat and co-browsing to improve the average resolution time.
Inefficient customer support staff
Having incompetent staff, with little knowledge about the company's products and services, results in poor customer service. Your customer service staff who interface with consumers should be competent in their roles and knowledgeable about the products and services being offered.
Reasons for bad customer service
Poor products and services: Organizations should ensure the products they sell meet the expected standards.
- Poor etiquette: Use appropriate language when addressing your customers. Being rude to your customers results in bad customer experiences, and consumers are unlikely to purchase your products or services again.
- Overworked staff: Employees who are suffering from fatigue or exhaustion are likely to offer poor services. Ensure your employees have enough rest to be able to serve your customers.
- Dissatisfied staff: Staff who are dissatisfied with their jobs are likely to offer poor services to your customers. Customer-facing staff should maintain a positive attitude.
- Incompetent staff: Incompetent staff or new staff who have yet to learn the basics of the organization may offer poor customer service. While this may not be intentional, new staff should work supervised by staff who are already competent.