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.