The customer service function in many companies is regularly challenged to reduce costs while maintaining or even improving customer satisfaction. And how to get to that point? “Be more efficient.” “Do more with less.”
Talk about an impossible mission.
Forrester’s 2018 Customer Service Trends offers some good news. Despite the fact that live interaction via telephone has continued to rise, it’s been limited to 1.6%. Meanwhile, self-service usage has increased for the third straight year by 13.6%. With modern customer service management solutions offering self-service features such as:
- Automated solutions for common problems
- Online communities
- Searchable knowledge bases with articles providing step-by-step instructions to resolve issues
- Robotic process automation (such as case categorization, prioritization, and assignment) powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning
… it would seem the tools are readily available to deliver on the challenge of improved customer satisfaction at lower costs.
What if I told you your customer service organization has the ability to do even more: to not only further reduce costs for your company beyond what self-service offers and raise customer satisfaction but also to increase revenues.
Two conditions must exist to not only make this possible but also to be successful. The first is a mandate: a mandate by leadership to make the customer the center of everything the company does and/or to be mindful of always improving the customer experience. Luckily, in a study by The Economist and Genesys, it’s apparent that senior executives at most companies now acknowledge the benefits of the best possible customer experience. This law of the land will make the next necessity easier.
Second, customer service must work cooperatively with teams across the company. Customer service has their finger on the pulse of what is happening with the customer. Are customers encountering problems enjoying the product or service and achieving their desired outcomes? Are business processes causing roadblocks to their experience? Customer service will hear the difficulties, and must efficiently and effectively communicate these issues to the rest of the organization in order to mutually address the customers’ problems.
With those requirements out of the way, let’s continue.
New Cost Reductions
So when all the self-service options have been deployed and are functioning optimally, what’s next? Where does the next cost reduction come? It comes from attacking the high-volume, common issues that are creating all the cases.
When customer service conveys customer issues to other teams and those teams resolve them, solutions are continual and not temporary. As a result, customer service activity around those issues–calls, emails, and chats and associated work–is eliminated, and so are the costs connected with serving affected customers.
Raising Customer Satisfaction
When customer service is working across the organization to permanently solve problems, more problems are put to rest once-and-for-all. When customers encounter fewer problems, they typically have greater satisfaction.
While the approach here won’t increase the satisfaction of customers currently experiencing issues, still it will have a positive influence. Though customers don’t expect nor desire to encounter a problem, solving a problem quickly and completely goes a long way with changing the customer’s perspective.
The bigger impact on customer satisfaction comes from future customers. Addressing product, service, or business issues that affect today’s customers raises overall quality and means customers that follow will never encounter them. They will naturally have greater satisfaction and rate a product or service higher, which leads us to…
Additional cost savings are certainly appreciated. Improved customer satisfaction is also great. But this last area is what has companies and their executives sitting up and paying attention to improving the customer experience. In fact, increases in topline performance can come from a variety of sources as a result of improving the customer experience.
The first benefit comes from existing customers. According to research in a Temkin Group report, customers enjoying a better experience are 3.5 times more likely to make additional purchases. Similarly, a Harvard Business Review article indicated a 5% increase in retention can increase profits by 25% to 95%. (That same Harvard Business Review article estimated acquiring a new customer can be five to twenty-five times more expensive than retaining an existing one–yet more potential cost savings for the company as a result of improved customer experience.)
With the rise of social media, public reviews and feedback take on significantly greater meaning. The previously-cited Temkin Group research also found that consumers are five times more likely to recommend a product or service when they have a great experience. There is no better marketing than a positive referral!
Driving Greater Business Impact
As technology has advanced, it’s gotten somewhat easier for customer service to decrease costs with an eye to driving greater customer satisfaction. Self-service options supplemented by artificial intelligence and machine learning cater to customers’ growing desire to find the solution themselves. But a business that stops there is not realizing its full potential.
With customer service on point and working with teams across the company, greater business impact is possible. By permanently solving customer issues, multiple improvements can be realized: additional cost savings, greater customer satisfaction, and boosted revenues. With executive support and cross-company teamwork, it’s all within reach–and the companies that embrace this approach will rise to the top.
Spot on with your comments, Paul. The right investment into customer service solutions doesn’t cost. It pays. And, the bigger benefit is the happy customers who have their confidence in the company they are doing business with restored, and as a result, come back again and again!