Is it easy to be a customer in your business?
Customer service – the frontline for customer experience
Customer service is an important strategic piece in your business that creates loyal customers. A survey from Gatepoint shows that 52% of surveyed executives recognise customer service as a competitive advantage.
In this article, we give concrete recommendations on how to develop your business by working strategically with customer service.
Omnichannel rows in many stores
With a growing number of channels and limited resources to manage their communications, businesses must fight to create a common high level of service for customers.
According to Gatepoint’s survey, 47% of respondents say they are struggling to provide a good level of service across all channels. Everyone talks about omnichannel and unified commerce, but very few businesses have the processes to ensure customers always get the desired service quality when problems arise in a customer journey.
Distribution of responsibility for the customer journey
A customer journey is a description of a customer's touchpoints with your company in order to solve a specific problem. It may be the purchase of a product, participation in an event or many other scenarios.
For each of these customer journeys, a specific department is responsible for them. The departments must design and deliver a good customer journey. The purchase of a product often belongs to a sales department or an e-commerce department. Event attendance is part of marketing or communication. Billing issues go to finance, and so on. These departments are specialists and can solve their queries best. Therefore, they should own and design specific customer journeys in their area.
Customer service is the frontline. It is often here that the company hears about friction in the customer journey for the first time. Probably the second time as well. But in order to prevent it from happening a third time, it is important that the problem is recorded centrally.
The problem is thus handed over to the department in question so it can be solved. It is therefore important to have the cases registered in your uniform customer service software and set up automatic alert functions when multiple uniform customer service cases occur. That way, you can solve the problem once and for all.
Innovation through customer service
Another thing that few companies can do is implement the important knowledge that can be gathered via customer service. It is a valuable source of innovation in product portfolio and services.
Besides the digital tools and automation, it is important to establish a process that requires top management and the rest of the organisation to systematically use information and findings from customer service. We are seeing that the most successful businesses have top management who systematically orient about – and participate in – customer service.
Good service happens quickly
Customers today expect that they can solve their needs online when they have the time and need. But they also expect easy access to a genuine person in the customer service department when problems become too complex or when the self-service solution is confusing (see the article Half of the customers disappear while you are offline).
The response time is crucial for the customer experience. According to one study in HBR, there is a clear correlation between short response time and the customer’s willingness to pay more for a product from the same company in the future.
It is worth noting that a short response time is within five minutes and that the effect disappears after 60 minutes – so that action is needed quickly. The problem is not expected to be solved at that time, but even a quick response lifts the customer's confidence in your business.
Establish KPI setup for your customer service
The first step to improving performance is to measure it. One KPI setup (key performance indicators) is a set of most relevant measurements for customer service that detects whether it is working properly.
The most commonly used are:
- Turnover– total revenue of the company
- Churn– company customer loss
These two are superior, and a number of smaller measuring points can be set up which contribute to these figures – so-called PIs (performance indicators).
For example, when you want to compete on fast response time, it is relevant to measure ‘time to serve’ – the average response time in each service channel. This data can be automatically logged into your customer service software so you can respond to change in numbers.
Another KPI for customer service is overall customer satisfaction. According to Gatepoint’s aforementioned survey, as much as 78% of businesses use improved customer satisfaction as a primary customer service KPI, simply because it is essential for business and sales.
Your customers share a good service experience with up to six people in their network, but dissatisfied customers share a bad experience with more than 15 people in their network. (32 Customer Experience Statistics You Need to Know for 2019).
With the automatic transmission of a customer satisfaction survey in all cases, you can follow up on good and bad cases and monitor that the service stays at the desired level.
A KPI setup must be revisited regularly and, if the business grows, there may be large changes in the organisation that require a total rethinking of the KPIs for customer service (Scaling Customer Service as Your Startup Grows)
Software for good experiences across the customer journey
It requires the right software to manage customer service tasks that can be automated and optimised. Customers want personal and relevant service, and they get that with integrated customer service software that gathers customer interactions across channels.
With a total overview at hand, the customer service employee can quickly see, for example, the customer's purchases, previous cases and visit history on the website. It provides the best possible advice and conversion with this knowledge in the backend. We recommend that you integrate with selected systems to draw your business model's most relevant customer information into the customer service function.
An integrated customer service system, in addition to the service itself, includes a number of support functions that can optimise the workflow of the service staff. This applies to self-service solutions, chatbots, FAQs or a knowledge base that can be merged unnoticed into a dialogue with the customer.
This reduces the time spent per case because the resources are easily accessible to the employee in the same system in which the case must be answered, forwarded, followed up or terminated. In addition, the customer’s problem can be solved in many cases, thus preventing a time-consuming customer service case. A study from Forrester shows that the customer service software Zendesk shortened the average turnaround time per phone call by 15 seconds and moved 20% of cases to self-service features. This means less pressure on employees and shorter waiting times for customers.
Customer service deserves strategic focus
Too many companies see customer service as a reactive feature. That is, the company takes action after the customer has had problems. 67% of customers mention poor service as the reason for leaving the company, but only one out of 26 dissatisfied customers will complain before leaving your business.
Few but very successful companies are able to turn customer service from reactive to proactive, helping the customer and providing an even better customer experience. These companies primarily get happier and more satisfied customers, but in business terms, the conversion rate also increases, the basket size increases, and ‘cost to serve’ becomes smaller.
In other words, there is a lot of profit to be gained if you view the good people in customer service as a valuable strategic asset to a much greater extent than they are today. Customer service is not just a call centre, but a central part of the customer experience your business offers.
Can you deliver excellent customer experience? If you can, customers are willing to pay up to 4.5 times more for your products and services than with the competitor with bad customer experience. It is time to give customer service the strategic priority it deserves.
Should we grab a cup of coffee and discuss strategi customer service in your company?