Steve Martin once said that the key to success in comedy is â€œbe undeniably goodâ€. This statement holds true for success in the business world–especially when it comes to customer service. Sure, a superior product, low price, or catchy branding can draw customers, but true success hinges on customer service.
Customer service is often viewed as a loss-leader, when the opposite is true. In fact, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, customer retention is 6-7 times less costly than attracting new customers. The understanding that customer service reduces customer acquisition costs becomes doubly important according to a McKinsey study, which shows that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer is treated. Research by Bain & Co. indicates that a customer is 4 times more likely to turn to a competitor if a problem is related to service as opposed to price or product.
Excellent customer service is integral a business’s success, and is cheaper than acquiring new customers. Yet only 14% of chief marketing officers (CMOs) listed customer-centricity as a high priority, and even fewer (11%) thought their customers held the same view (2014 CMO Council Mastering Adaptive Customer Engagements Report). Poor customer service is unfortunately prominent in business today–a failure that costs brands around $41 billion a year (NewVoice Media).
These three steps are integral to being undeniably good in the customer service arena.
Know what your customers want
This is often surprising, but many businesses have their customer support systems as a function that best serves the business’s best interests–not the customer. Provide online surveys, initiate focus groups, or test out usage rates of various support systems. By knowing the customer base and their needs, a business can craft policy that best reflects the company’s core values as they relate to the customer.
Southwest Airlines does this exceptionally well–calling themselves a â€œCustomer Service company that happens to fly.â€ Southwest know what their customers want–reliable, affordable air transportation. Because of this, customer service becomes their product–all because they know what people are looking for in an airline.
PhaseWare’s Tracker Suite helps businesses gain a full 360 degree view of their customers through centralized management of all forms of information, instantly assessable from any Tracker platformâ€”desktop, web, or mobile.
Understanding trends in industry, culture, and technology can make or break a company. Failure to adapt to customer expectations can also lead to discontent. For example, if industry is trending towards live chat for customer support over phone support, it may be wise to adapt to future demand. Similarly, once a business establishes its customer service platform to meet expectations, keep an eye on the pulse of the customer base through social channels. A single suggestion or expectation may simply be a desire that nobody knew they even had, and wouldn’t ever arise in focus groups or surveys. So validating suggestions on a personal basis may help a company stay ahead of the curve.
So many failures in customer support stem from slow responses and apathetic customer service providers. According to Nielsen-McKinsey, 33% of consumers would recommend a brand that has quick, ineffective service–opposed to 17% of consumers who would recommend effective yet slow service.
The golden standard is, of course fast, effective service. However, prompt service–regardless of channel–can boost perception and overall customer satisfaction. Tracker supports prompt service through customized alerts that indicate approaching deadlines and spikes in activity.
Quality customer service shouldn’t be a nightmare to implement. By listening to your customers, providing prompt service, and anticipating trends and customer needs your business can be undeniably good. And undeniably good succeeds.