Which road is your customer experience on?

2nd Jul 2018

Who would have thought that in 2018, with all the technological evolutions we have already lived through in the past 10-15 years, from Cloud Computing, Smartphones, Social Media, Drones, Big Data, Virtual Reality(VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet Of Things (IOT), that customer experience could still be slow, put work on the customers shoulders and often let customers down?

Take a recent experience of my own involving British Gas, where upon being let down on a maintenance agreement and requesting to lodge a complaint, I entered into their process to be told the complaints team would get back to me within 8, yes 8 weeks! So, a customer who is clearly not satisfied and is requesting it to be dealt with is then put into an 8 week delay cycle, how does that address their complain?

My immediate thoughts were 1 of 3 things; either they were so inundated with complaints that this was the backlog; or they simply didn’t care about that department so understaffed it and hence a similar effect; or the biggie being that they hoped that this would diffuse a portion of clients who would either forget to re-engage or by the time it came around would not care or forget what it was about.  None of which are acceptable approaches!

When raising complaints, the common average I get from speaking to others is that you are informed via email or web response that your enquiry will be dealt with in 10 or 14 days.  Is it no wonder that many resort to the phone to request resolution.

It is easy for a company to fob you off electronically, to defer, delay or perhaps hope your complaint goes away.  If like me when you get these messages you also deliberate on whether they will come back to you (I always now create a diary event with the details to ensure it prompts me when they have missed their SLA and I should be chasing – usually with a phone call as they have now let me down again!).

Is it too much to ask that once I am a ‘let down’ customer, a complainer, that I get to engage and have it at least considered if not resolved quickly. Are businesses that short staffed or that plagued with complaints that they need this buffer?  Is it not a complaining customer that is one you need to deal with quickly to diffuse and stop the spread? The longer it goes on the harder it gets to recover and the more effort and cost to your business!

  • ‘33% say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service.’ – (Source : American Express Customer Service Barometer 2017)
  • ‘For every customer who complains, there are 26 customers who don’t say anything.’ – (Source : Lee Resources International)
  • ‘Customers tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, versus the 11 people they’ll tell about a good experience.’ – (Source : American Express Customer Service Barometer 2017)
  • 82% of customers have left a company because of a bad customer service experience.’ – (Source : Rightnow)

Customer churn is costly and yet customers who have a problem and find its handling is professional and fast, often come back and increase spend, knowing with confidence they can trust this provider and are thus happy to put more into that bucket.

Too often such customer issues are responded to too slowly if at all. They benefit from the personal touch, an email complaint will often be dealt with on email only, which if works and resolves quickly can be okay, but consider offering a phone call to speak. It is easy for the customers true demeanour to be mis-construed on email and you do not get the tonality and feel for the customer (nor they you) over electronic means. Arranging a time to actually ‘speak’ makes it a real engagement, gets the person engaging with a ‘real’ person, your agent and often diffuses the situation far quicker and makes the customer feel loved that they got ‘real’ attention.

Poor service and the feeling of a business that does not care are the top reasons for churning customers. Something in your own control, not something caused by competitors!

  • ‘Customers who cancelled because of price are more likely to come back than those who left because of poor service’  - (Source : Georgia State University Study)
  • ‘70% of customers leave a company because of poor service, which is usually attributed to a salesperson’ – (Source : Peppers & Rogers Group)
  • ‘67% of customer churn is preventable if the customer issue was resolved at the first engagement.’ – (Source – ThinkJar Survey)

Businesses need to invest in technology that enables them to have more time to ‘speak’ to clients, to engage with them and make that human touch still real.

We hear all the time of wonderous new technology such as AI, VR, Chatbots and the like, that take us further from customers, pushing customers to self-serve and to not engaging with us as a personal brand, but a faceless automaton. In shops we are forced to self-serve, to in effect work for the shop in scanning our own goods, paying and packing without any payback, be it that the promise is faster service!  All positioned as aiding the customer, not a mention of the cost savings in labour to the retailer.

When a customer feels they need help (rightly or wrongly) the customer perception of service is what is real to that individual and if here you cut corners and let them down, they will churn and pass that ill feeling onto others to influence their possible churn or not coming to you in the 1st place.

Us as customers are more fickle than ever before. Loyalty quickly wains anyway when new world approaches and entrants are on offer – Ask Blockbuster, Toys R’ Us, Taxi Drivers fighting UBER and we could go on. Add to this dissatisfaction in service and it can only stimulate customers receptiveness to change and looking around.

Customers today want and expect service and when needed personal service and engagement with a human. Have you ever tried phoning your own company to find out the process as a customer? Maybe you should Personal Shop inwardly?

  • ‘45% of customers withdrew their negative evaluation of a company in light of an apology, whereas only 23% of customers withdrew their negative evaluation in return for compensation’ – (Source : Nottingham School of Economics)  

Find out now how your customers journey is? Is it smooth, fast to get to the destination and without traffic jams, diversions and frustration? Or do you make them want to turn back to take a different route and regret ever setting out on this journey?

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