Five Customer Engagement Tips for 2011

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What we’ve learned about delivering a superior customer experience in the past year is worth building on in 2011. Here are five tips gleaned from Convergys’ proprietary research on the state of customer care among Fortune 500 companies in the communications, technology, financial services, retail, e-commerce, and health care industries.

#1: Listen to the voice of the customer and amplify it throughout your organization. Your employees need to be as sensitive to the current state of service as are your customers.

  • 77% of customers say that in the past year the quality of customer service provided by companies has stayed the same or gotten worse, while 50% of employees at those companies providing the experience think service has improved.

#2: Communicate the ease and accessibility of reaching live agents in channels of the customer’s choosing, and prepare and empower your employees to provide first-contact resolution.

  • 62% of customers who said it was “hard” to deal with a company said it was because their issue was not resolved the first time they contacted them for service. 43% also said they found it difficult to reach a service representative. Self-service certainly has its time and place, but when issues are complex or frustrating, customers want (and demand) access to live agents.

#3: Aggressively promote the fact that you want feedback. You want to know when you get it wrong. And, make it easy for customers to contact you and get immediate access to empowered and empathetic agents.

  • 41% of customers who did not bother to report a bad experience (34% defected without saying a word) gave the following reason why: There was no convenient way to report it to the offending company.

#4: Listen to and engage customers on social media.

  • 80% of customers who had a bad experience took their story to the court of public opinion, and 12% used social media to amplify their voice. On average, an individual using social media reached 45 people with their individual tweets or postings. And, for those customers who could recall reading about a friend or colleague’s bad experience, 62% said they avoided doing business with or stopped doing business with that company.

#5: Invest in the experience and don’t lose customers, because you likely won’t ever get them back.

  • In response to the recession, many organizations have reduced their investment in their customer care operations, as reported both by executives and employees. Customers express a correlated sense of decline in service in the form of: more bad experiences, fewer resolutions, and registering greater defection rates. Only 16% of customers who left a company after a bad experience said they would be willing to do business with that company again if some effort were made to win them back. Don’t burn the bridge by not providing the best agent-based experiences, and don’t focus so much on diverting your customers from agents that you damage the relationship. Companies looking to strategically cut costs should think twice before making across-the-board investment reductions in their customer care operations, along with their service representatives and the tools and systems that support them.

4 COMMENTS

  1. These are really helpful tips for 2011, thanks Mike.

    Obviously distilled from the reality of organisations experiencing tough times – but, for me, *3 sums up a rather negative mind set here. Why do most ‘experts’ assume that customer feedback will only be received when ‘you get it wrong’ or be about ‘bad experiences’.

    Why not encourage and harness the true power of positive customer feedback? Perfect for employee recognition AND marketing!

    The Wow! Awards is taking off in the USA and helping organisations to solict and harvest the amazing power of positive customer feedback, through compliments and testimonials, that become nominations for an externally accredited Award that employees are really proud to receive.

    See Action 2 News!:-

    http://www.youtube.com/user/thewowawards#p/u/2/FL4B8ZdNdhQ

    Find out more at:-
    http://www.thewowawards.co.uk

    or Email:
    [email protected]

  2. Hi Mike,

    These are very helpful and thanks for sharing. My company, TeamSnap, is a web-based application to manage teams and groups online. We have designed the site to be intuitive and easy for anyone to use but we have also made customer support a key initiative. We respond to every question and feature request with a personal email and make sure that every inquiry is resolved.

    We’re constantly asking for feedback in emails or in social media to generate conversations. Customer feedback really drives our feature development and, to your point, we have seen many gracious emails from customers after we help to resolve their problem or implement a new feature that they asked for — they feel like their voice has been heard.

    What we have found is that in going the extra mile to assist our customers, they have really helped us to be a better company and produce a better product. We just posted about this on our blog: http://blog.teamsnap.com/customer-service/who-is-helping-whom-how-our-customers-are-using-support-to-help-us/

    Thanks for sharing these tips!

  3. Hi Martin,

    Thanks for reading! I certainly agree that positive feedback is valuable, but with satisfaction with customer service on the decline (see #1), it’s incredibly important to solicit constructive criticism. A well-handled complaint often becomes a positive review.

    Best,
    Mike

  4. Margaux,

    Thanks for commenting! And great post on the TeamSnap blog; it sounds like you have really taken customer centricity to heart!

    Mike

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