The Truth About Delighting Your Customers
There has been a lot of arguments recently on whether companies should put more effort into delighting their customers or should they be more concerned with delivering on their basic customer promises?
Now it might interest you to know that customers are more likely to punish bad service than they are willing to reward delightful service.
Facts from recent research show that gaining a customers’ loyalty has a lot more to do with how well companies deliver on their basic, even plain-vanilla promises than on how dazzling the service experience might be. Yet most companies have failed to realize this and pay dearly in terms of wasted investments and lost customers.
Now ask yourself: How often do you cut other companies loose because of terrible service? I am guessing “All the time”. Let take a quick scenario for a clearer explanation, how do you feel when the airlines lose your bags, or when cellular companies whose reps put you on permanent hold, and or when the dry cleaners just don’t understand what “rush order” means.
To examine the links between customer service and loyalty, the Customer Contact Council, a division of the Corporate Executive Board, conducted a study of over 75,000 people who had interacted over the phone with contact-center representatives or through self-service channels such as the web, voice prompts, chat, and e-mail. They also held hundreds of structured interviews with customer service leaders and their functional counterparts in large companies throughout the world. Their research addressed three questions:
- How important is customer service to loyalty?
- Which customer service activities increase loyalty, and which don’t?
- Can companies increase loyalty without raising their customer service operating costs?
The aftermath of that research showed that
- Delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty but reducing their effort along with the work they must do to get their problem solved—does build up the customers’ loyalty.
- Acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.
According to conventional wisdom, customers are more loyal to online stores that go above and beyond, for example, by offering a refund, a free product, or a free service such as expedited shipping) makes customers only marginally more loyal than meeting their needs.
So what is the Right Move?
The loyalty pie consists largely of slices such as product quality and brand; the slice for service is really small. But service accounts for most of the disloyalty pie. Customers will buy from a store because it delivers quality products, great value, or a compelling brand. We leave one, more often than not, because it does not deliver on customer service.
In customer service, you as a business are more likely to create loyal customers primarily by helping them (Your Customers) solve their problems quickly and easily. Armed with this understanding, you can change the emphasis on customer service interactions.
1. Don’t just resolve the current issue—head on to the next one.
By far the biggest cause of excessive customer effort is the need to call back. Field research shows that 22% of repeat calls involve issues related to the problem that prompted the original call, even if that problem itself was adequately addressed the first time around. Although most businesses are well equipped to expect and “forward-resolve” these issues, they rarely do so because they’re overly focused on managing call time. They need to realize that customers gauge the effort they spend not just in terms of how an individual call is handled but also according to how the company manages evolving service events.
2. Try to address the emotional side of customer interactions.
Now we have to understand something here, in e-Commerce, you are dealing with different people with different emotional temperaments, as a business owner or a customer service rep, you need to know how to connect with your customers emotionally.
Do you wonder why you should do that? Well, it has been reported that Twenty-four percent of the repeat calls stemmed from emotional disconnects between customers and reps—situations in which, for instance, the customer didn’t trust the rep’s information or didn’t like the answer given and had the impression that the rep was just hiding behind general company policy. With some basic instruction, reps can eliminate many interpersonal issues and reducing repeat calls.
Always listen for clues to a customer’s personality type, quickly assess whether they are talking to a “controller,” a “thinker,” a “feeler,” or an “entertainer,” and tailor their responses offering the customer the balance of detail and speed appropriate for the personality type diagnosed. This strategy has reduced repeat calls by a remarkable 40%.
3. Use feedback from disgruntled or struggling customers to reduce customer effort.
Most Businesses conduct surveys to measure internal performance; however, they may neglect to use the data they collect to learn from unhappy customers. Easily gather crucial data for your business operations and proactively look for a way to address them for the use of other customers.
4. Focus more on reducing customer effort
Incentive systems that value speed over quality may pose the single greatest barrier to reducing customer effort. Creating low-effort customer experience is something that every business should work towards, even if they aren’t measuring customer effort score. 96% of customers who have a high effort experience will become disloyal.
An Australian telecommunications provider eliminated all productivity metrics from its frontline representatives’ performance scorecards. Although handle time nudged up, repeat calls fell by 58%. Today the company tests its reps solely based on short, direct interviews with customers asking them if the service they received met their needs.
Online business owners should focus on mitigating disloyalty by reducing customer effort, Although most companies believe that customers overwhelmingly prefer live phone service to self-service, data has shown that customers are, in fact, indifferent. This is an important tipping point and probably presages the end of phone-based service as the primary channel for customer service interactions.
For enterprising service managers, it presents an opportunity to rebuild their organizations around self-service and, reducing customer effort at the core where it belongs.