In This Issue:
- Good Customer Service is Good Marketing
- Good Intentions Gone Wrong
- Strategies for Better Service
- Rick's Rules
By Rick Rappe
Common sense tell us good service wins and keeps customers and bad service sends them elsewhere. Newly released VocaLabs data provides dramatic proof that the impact of customer service on customer attitudes is even greater than many would expect.
From a survey of over 2700 callers to five different companies, we found that after only one positive contact experience, customers were 88% more likely to make a purchase in the near future; and after a negative experience 56% less likely.
The surveys also showed that with a quality contact experience customers were 77% more likely to pay a premium to buy from that company and with a poor contact 50% less willing to pay more.
Another recently released survey tells us that 92% of consumers form their opinions about a company based on their experience with a call center.
Given this, why is bad service so common?
Quality of customer care is the single most important factor in determining a customer's opinion of a company. Companies that do not recognize that client service is a part of marketing are making a mistake.
Customer contact, whether we are talking making a purchase, bill paying, or just getting information has huge impact on customer perceptions and willingness to do business.
In this issue, we'll explore some of the reasons why bad customer service persists, and how companies can create a positive experience for all their customers.
By Jessica Ament
In our experience we regularly encounter a lack of planning and dialog between marketing and customer service. Sometimes it is an innocent internal rivalry. Sometimes there is outright distrust that is counterproductive to company success.
One common example is when marketing institutes new products and strategies and fails to include customer service in those plans. If client care is not prepared to handle the influx of calls...well, the best laid plans...
Another common example is when the customer service operation makes changes without keeping sales and marketing in the loop. While nobody ever intends to make service worse, it can be the unintended side-effect of cost-saving measures.
When marketing and customer service don't work well together, service levels suffer, and customers become unhappy. When they cooperate, good things can happen. Customer service gets the resources it needs, and marketing has a powerful weapon for winning and retaining customers.
By Peter Leppik
The simplest strategy to improve your service is the tune-up. This is a straightforward evaluation of your performance, from the customer's perspective, looking for easy ways to improve customer service.
We often uncover very easy changes which have a dramatic impact on customer service. Re-recording a message in an automated system, or making a slight change to a menu will sometimes eliminate a lot of confusion.
Would an automatic system for routine questions save money and free up agents for more complex tasks? Great. Just make sure the application works well from the caller's perspective. Sadly, poorly designed automated systems are the rule, not the exception.
Allocating the resources to properly evaluate and test an automated system before it goes live will more than pay for itself, through improved effectiveness, improved customer retention, and reduced project risk.
Benchmark current call center performance against industry norms. Understanding what you are doing right or wrong today is essential to measure the effectiveness of change.
Traditional measurements of call center performance such as number of calls handled, average call length, average hold times, etc. are important, but they only serve as a proxy for what's most important to the caller. Ask what your customers want from the experience, and measure that.
Most companies have a number of direct and indirect competitors, all with varying reputations for customer service. Knowing where you stand in relation to the competition is critical to ensuring top-notch service.
Conducting "mystery-shopper" style surveys of the competition can provide surprising insights into what customers like and don't like, and ways to improve customer service and reputation.
By Rick Rappe
Making your customer service support and enhance your marketing effort isn't rocket science, it just requires paying attention to the right things. Here are a few simple rules which can get everyone pulling in the same direction:
1. Good Service is Good Marketing
On average, 60% of customer contact comes through a call center, making it the most important factor in shaping customer opinions. Dollars invested in improving customer service can have more impact than many other traditional marketing techniques.
2. Customer Service Needs the Right Tools
An agent may be performing well, but if they cannot solve the customer's need, both customers and agents wind up frustrated. Empower your employees! "I'm sorry sir, I'm not allowed to issue a credit." Or "That's not my department, you'll have to hang up and call..." are not responses that generate customer loyalty.
3. Quality Care Can Be a Competitive Weapon
Better customer service can give you a leg up on the competition. If your service is better than Brand X, promote it! If it isn't, make it better!
4. Customer Service, Sales, and Marketing Must Work Together
Both human and automated customer service operations can upsell. Marketing campaigns do have an impact on call centers. Bad service will cost you customers. It is possible to both save money and improve service. To make the most of every dollar spent, everyone needs to be working together, and making decisions in the larger context of the company's goals.