The Pentagon of Customer Service

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The Customer Service Target Market Support Assistance Concept

Customer centricity in businesses is the most sought-after competitive edge. By 2017, 89% of companies expect customer experience to be their chief differentiating parameter. Satisfied customers not only improve the business’ reflection in the market, they become loyal advocates of the brand, advertising it further and thus, escalating sales.

“Marketers need, and are uniquely positioned, to deepen relationships and move customers beyond just being purchasers and into the domain of Loyads, those loyal advocates who will amplify both messages and marketing spend”, according to Augie Ray, research director of Gartner for Marketing Leaders at the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference 2016

Businesses need to analyze the five key aspects of customer service to ensure seamless customer experience. These would be: understanding the weightage of sound customer service; incorporating the provision of customer satisfaction in its culture; maintaining a balance between artificial and human interaction done with customers; managing the utilization of resources proficiently; and following services through customer feedback.

customer feedback_voice of customer
Source: Slide Share

To what extent is an organization dependent on its customers?

“All companies essentially exist because of their customers, so service is an essential part of the mix,” says Michell CEO, Mike Bannister

“It doesn’t matter if the customer is a family buying a holiday, a school child spending their pocket money – or a multi-national company installing a new facility. A good experience of service is just as important each time.’ And whether the company is large or small, it’s the service that they provide to their customers that will give them the best competitive edge.”

Despite the innovation and productivity of any brand, it would not prosper without its active consumers. Undoubtedly, the most significant aspect of evaluating an idea is the target and how will he benefit from the product. Therefore, customer satisfaction should be the prime goal of an industry.

Furthermore, this indirectly implies that sale isn’t the end of the story. Post sales service has become mandatory to increase the customer flow exponentially. This has become essential for FMCGs as well as SMCGs as customer propagated advertisement has gained popularity.

In addition to improved sales and a better image, customer experience provides a perspective to growing businesses about their flaws and aids them in further development. Founder of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates remarked, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”.

What is the relationship between corporate culture and customer satisfaction?

According to Robert C. Johnson, the co-founder and CEO of TeamSupport.com: “For consumers, it’s not difficult to spot a disconnection between a company’s customer service promises and the corporate culture the customer actually encounters during a support contact. Virtually all businesses say they value their customers, but who hasn’t had the experience of receiving truly lousy customer service? So where did the breakdown occur? The company culture is usually where brand promises are kept – or broken.”

Companies do not intend to dissatisfy customers. However, the extent of prioritizing the customers affects the customer service. If a positive corporate culture is integrated within a team of professionals, the outcome will be an optimistic customer experience.

Here are a few traditions which can be incorporated in the corporate culture to influence the customer experience:

  • Work environment manipulates the attitude of the employees: A healthy, stress-free work schedule tends to soothe the nature of the employees. In effect, employee-consumer conversations have a constructive temperament stirring customer satisfaction. On the contrary, if a fierce employee competition exists, it will be more focused by them rather than customer service.
  • Including customer satisfaction as a parameter of employee performance: If they are paid for it, they will strive to achieve it. Most employees take extra care of their customers if they know it is of importance to them. Combining ethics with personal achievement is the best way to motivate customer service among employees.

Thus, an efficient team focused on customer service is worth all the incentives given to them if customers end up satisfied.

How can the combination of efficiency and empathy enhance customer experience?

Doug Warner said, “In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember that your competitor is just one mouse click away.” Contrastingly, according to a Chinese proverb, a man without a smiling face must not open a shop. These divergent opinions suggest the significance of maintaining a balance between technology and conventional human conversations to deliver a great customer experience. This ultimately roots e-service with empathy, personalizing the service for each individual.

Housing a population of 7 billion human beings, any global corporation would like to achieve maximum customer satisfaction- whether that’s through chat, phone, website, text or social media. Adhering to individual needs is possible, only through the right combination of artificial intelligence and human interaction, or summing it up, optimum use of human computer interaction.

While going digital can deal several customers at a time and is clear of human errors, it lacks empathy and personalization with respect to each consumer. People often get offended for being handled by bots. It gives an impression that the company doesn’t ‘care’. Furthermore, expressions and emotions can be more convincing than automated responses.

However, with the ease offered by online services independent of time and human interaction restrictions, businesses tend to flow smoothly and have been reported for increased customer flow. Thus, to some, it is more convenient as it eradicates the hassles of physical interactions and queuing.

Thus, businesses should combine Artificial Intelligence with the human touch for exceptional customer experience.

How to escape from overspending or being understaffed while providing customer service?

To keep a customer demands as much skill as to win one. Deploying excessive digital technology to enhance e-service is as burdening as employing a huge staff dedicated to customer service. Both require revenue and management. Similarly, being understaffed can be tough to manage a huge influx of customers.

According to Contractor UK’s report, the taxman’s customer service “collapsed” resulting in a tripling in call waiting times and payment calculation errors for 3million people. Upon revealing these findings in a contemptuous report, the National Audit Office said the collapse was due to HM Revenue & Customs irresponsible timing of its staff reductions.

Such cases provide evidence of the importance of proper resource management in order to enrich customer experience.
Whereas, it should be noted that automated systems do not require excessive revenue input. Also, AI in customer service is considered efficient as it generates revenue by augmented customer flow.

How to measure the success of your efforts towards customer satisfaction?

The Vice President of British Airways, Donald Porter thinks: “Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.” According to a research, implementing customer feedback ideas impact on sales by 10%. It allows companies to improve relations with current customers, as it has happened at Debenhams (UK) which recovered over 6,000 clients through redeveloped customer service.

Wavetec suggest that once a clear picture on the importance of customer feedback is formed, the next step consists of identifying the organization’s benefits, which entails the following:

  • A strategy for and clear objectives of data gathering.
  • An analysis of both platforms availability and customers’ use.
  • Detailed identification of relevant performance indicators for subsequent analysis.
  • Assessment opportunities for solving problems and implementing corrective actions which may result from feedback processes.

With emerging customer feedback solutions, it has become convenient for corporations to collect data. However, responding to the complaints as well as planning corporate solutions according to the given feedback is a responsibility most businesses overlook. This is when customer feedback solutions do not satisfy their purpose of customer satisfaction and business development.

With customer service as the top imperative of modern business, the pentagon of customer service to enrich customer satisfaction requires immense spotlight to prosper in the present market.

Tobias Bessone
Tobias is a renowned professional specializing in customer journey. Currently holding the position with Wavetec Group as Deputy CEO. Tobias is leading the European, Latin America and Middle East markets in sales, marketing & product development. He has an an obsessive passion for customer facing technologies that help corporations improve their service areas & customer journey. He consults to some of the world's largest brands on their customer experience strategy and journey; his focus areas are New Product Development and Customer Journey Design.

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