Poor customer service not only costs companies in terms of goodwill and reputation; it can also do some serious damage to profits.
According to the 2015 Customer Rage Survey, about $202 billion in revenue is at risk for U.S. businesses with poor customer service.
The Customer Rage studies provide an excellent snapshot of American customer service satisfaction over time. Based on customer survey benchmarks first established in a 1976 study commissioned by the White House, the series of seven follow-up studies conducted by Customer Care Measurement and Consulting (CCMC), in conjunction with the Carey School of Business of Arizona State University, show a downward spiral in customer satisfaction and a rise in customer rage.
The most recent Rage study showed a 60% or higher discrepancy between what complainants wanted to get and what they received from companies on five expectations:
- Assurance that the problem wouldn’t happen again
- Repair or resolution of the product or service problem
- An explanation of why the problem occurred
- To be treated with dignity
The fact that four out of these five expectations involve the communications or “soft” skills demonstrated by customer service representatives underscores the importance of giving your team the tools they need to succeed.
Using Technology to Improve the Human Side of Service Delivery
“You can train most people on your systems, but it’s how they respond to customers that is key,” said Mike Cannova, ShoreTel’s director of Advanced Customer Care. “We have to be able to provide information that’s concise and relevant, and that also demonstrates we’re happy to help.”
Cannova oversees a team of 33 care specialists who provide frontline support to ShoreTel customers. Prior to joining the company in 2016, Cannova spent almost three decades in the customer care industry. He notes that when it comes down to it, customer service is all about people helping people.
“First and foremost, know your customer, what they want and what challenges they may encounter with your product or service,” said Cannova. “From that foundation, hire people who can meet those needs and then equip them with the tools they need to respond quickly and accurately.”
Modern contact center solutions can improve service delivery in many ways. Below are five key areas where these tools can directly impact both your agents and your customers:
1. Training & Coaching —Ongoing coaching and feedback are vital to an agent’s success. Modern contact center offerings include supervisor oversight features such as silent monitoring, whisper coaching, barge-in and call takeover. Another tool -- call recording – also assists in feedback and training, and aids in compliance monitoring as well.
2. Faster Response Times — A recent survey found that almost two-thirds of respondents said lowering phone hold times would vastly improve customer service. Other annoyances such as multiple transfers or the need to contact a company more than once can be triggered by issues such as inflexible systems that can’t scale to handle fluctuating call volumes, improper staffing or utilization of staff, or poorly structured call menus. Newer contact center technologies allow you to quickly adjust queues or Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menus in response to real-time needs.
3. Meeting Customer Preferences — Know your customers and then deploy technology accordingly. For instance, telecom technology review firm Software Advice released a report on IVR optimization which suggested that companies need to think harder about which services they want their IVRs to automate, especially since most callers tend to settle on just a few service options in the initial IVR menu. Do you know the top five reasons your customers call you? Is your phone system set up to respond? If not, an updated IVR solution could help.
4. Scale as Needed — It’s vital to have the appropriate staff and systems in place to handle inquiries, especially when volumes spike due to such dynamics as seasonal demands, new product offerings or an emergency response situation. Many cloud contact center solutions are natively structured to support scalability. For example, in the event of a special promotion, inquiries can be easily re-routed to other locations or additional lines can be turned up quickly to support the influx of calls.
5. Provide Multiple Channels - As more customers demonstrate a preference for self-service options, make sure to offer alternative ways to contact your business through web chat, email and social media. It’s not uncommon these days for customers to stay on one channel and also engage via a second channel (e.g., exploring social media while on hold with an agent). Additionally, make sure that your staff can easily transition between various delivery channels. This will not only make them aware of other means of finding answers, but also help them to educate customers on how to best find what they need within self-service options.
Awesome customer service is a market differentiator. Make sure you have the tools in place to help your agents deliver the very best.