As companies canvass around, looking for ways to gain competitive advantage in 2015, it is looking a lot clearer, that prices and product quality will continue to be similar. The somewhat million dollar question, lies on what would form the differentiator? I have been enquiring from individuals, on what would attract them to a brand and it seems to be a company that provides a stress-free service. Customers buying decisions will have less to do with price but more to do with the quality of service. Mona Channet on the Capgermini blog stated: “Nearly every company tracks market drivers such as price and product innovation. But today’s customers aren’t deciding how to shop based on analytics—they’re also highly influenced by their emotional experiences with a brand.” The emotional experiences of these customers would be massive in 2015, but knowing how to leverage on these emotions is very important. Below are simple but great ways to leverage on customer emotions in 2015.
1)Getting more of the basics than the brilliant right: I was having a chat with a friend, who complained about her network provider, only having a mobile number for customer support. She was furious that this said company, did not have any other channel for customer support- like an online chat or email system. She said the company spends more time on the brilliant- which is in the form of a series of expensive TV adverts. She said, as a customer if the company did focus on getting the basics right, in this instance, a multichannel communication system, then she would have been happy and retained their services. To support this sentiment, Forrester research says that, 69% of US consumers would like to be able to change between customer service channels, from like phone to chat and vice versa.
2)FAQ- pathway or roadblock: Some company websites have frequently asked questions of what they would like customers to ask. The questions are limited and in some cases, customers are not giving the option to speak with someone, if the questions they intend to ask is not on the listed ones. Your FAQ should be a communication pathway- in the sense that, it makes customers feel you enjoy communicating with them and not shutting them off.
3)Service VS Sales call waiting time: It is quite alarming that we experience this every now and then; when you intend to buy something, the waiting time is a lot shorter than when you have enquiries or complaints to make. When IVR is used by a customer and they opt to speak to an agent regarding a service issue, in some cases, there is a long wait as opposed to opting to buy a product. The longer the waiting time, the more emotionally stressful the customer gets.
4)CS agents as therapist not robots: Therapist empowers you while robots serve you. As much as serving a customer is good, they want more than just a blanket service. I read on twitter once, when a customer wished Fulton Bank a good day and the bank replied: “You have a better day.” You providing just a service is not enough but making customers feeling empowered after doing business with you is key.
5)Conversation in open communities: So many companies try not to have an open discussion in open communities like twitter, Facebook, Trustpilot and a host of others. It is good to study the online disposition of your customers, if they prefer having a conversation with you on this platform, then do not take it to a private realm like emails and direct messages. It boils down to be socially intelligent online, to engage with your customers and attract a wider participation if necessary.
6)Not pity but empathy: Customers do not want you to constantly have pity on them as they are not helpless. They would appreciate more of empathy- putting yourself in their shoes and acting accordingly. When you are empathetic, you would go beyond the call centre scripts and provide a customised and proactive service.
7)Vocabulary of agents: You may have to train or re-train your customer service agents to use less of these phrases: “I don’t know,” “You’ll have to go to our website,” “I will try,” “or “That’s our policy”. Your agents will have to use phrases that portray uniformity in your multichannel support system and flexibility.
8)Keeping and not breaking promises: This might look very obvious but some companies fail to get this right. Customers get promised a call back by a call centre team leader and this call fails to happen. They get promised a delivery at a scheduled timeframe and this fails to happen. When you fail to keep promises, it causes emotional stress and worry for customers. They frantically look at their phones for the call back that never happens and look through the post for the promised delivery that fails to be on schedule.
9)Uniformity to Omni channel: Nothing frustrates a customer than calling IVR and being on hold for 40 minutes and the call centre agents says they can’t handle your request and referring you to a different channel. Passing responsibility around from one channel to another, at the customer’s expense, only heightens anger and frustration. Forrester research advocates for the standardization of the service experience across communication channels
10)Personalisation and tailoring contents: Treating customers as individuals with their unique preferences. Call them by their name but with respect. Don’t send them marketing emails if they have not opted for one. Remembering their birthdays and not just sending them a gift voucher but an electronic or paper birthday card. Listen to what they are saying and use that to curate the service.
2015 is fast approaching, remember that being able to leverage on customer emotions could help provide that cutting edge service differentiator.
These are all excellent suggestions. Regarding personalization, even if your customers or prospects haven’t opted-in to be addressed in a personal way, companies need to recognize that security is a growing issue for consumers. If not handled well, the benefits of personalization can work against, not for, building perceived value: http://customerthink.com/we-marketers-see-personalization-as-a-customizing-value-building-communication-and-experience-tool-what-do-the-consumers-think/
Thanks for the comment Michael. Indeed, personalization is critical and companies would have to show more responsibility in providing value to customers, based on their requirements and consent.