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Tackling some of the most common customer service misconceptions

21st Apr 2015
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It’s easy for companies to fall into a trap whereby they become over optimistic that their relationships with customers are in a good place. Whilst that might be the case, the simple fact is companies don’t know unless they continually check what customers think of them. Relying on old data can actually be worse than having no data at all since it can lull firms into a false sense of security that everything in the garden is rosy and they don’t need to improve or innovate.

Some of the most common customer service misconceptions are outlined below. Challenging these is vital to creating more engaged and profitable customers.

1.    Measuring customer satisfaction annually is sufficient
As mentioned, old data can be worse than no data at all. Circumstances can change quickly, new competitors appear and existing ones innovate. It’s always important to stay on top of the game and measuring once a year means that your company will always be lagging behind. Even data from six months ago might be radically different from what you would discover in a survey today.

Continuous measurement is the only way to provide an insight into the real-time customer pulse and enables your company to be agile to react against changes. Real-time measurement will ensure that firms get accurate, useful data and insights, not old or averaged numbers.

2.    Customer complaints are a bad thing
On first read this might seem a strange thing to say. However one of the benefits of real-time insight is you get to hear what your customers really think of your company and products. On occasion, this will come in the form of complaints. It’s how firms act on this feedback that can make the difference between success and failure.

Complaints are a valuable opportunity to learn about what you can do better. Taking feedback on board can enable firms to improve products and processes and enhance customers’ experiences. It can also provide a reference point to measure how those complaints are handled internally and track progress a few months down the line.

3.    Customer satisfaction = loyalty
Certainly customer satisfaction can equal loyalty but there isn’t a direct link, and the relationship is far more complicated than that. Whilst it’s true that loyal customers are in many cases also satisfied, there are many other reasons why they are loyal. A lot of this comes down the brand – customers can feel affinity with a brand which will in the short term overcome negativities with the experience. Additionally they might just like the product a company is selling even if they may be less convinced by the customer service that comes with it.

However these are short term factors that don’t breed either customer satisfaction or deep loyalty. This is why firms have to investigate and know more – again, collecting and acting on real-time feedback is the only way.

4.    Customer satisfaction begins and ends with customer facing staff
The best companies have delivering customer satisfaction as a fundamental part of their DNA. Whilst it’s true that the bulk of interaction with customers comes from those on the frontline, ultimately everyone is responsible for how customers feel about the company and the products.

If a supply chain link breaks or a product fails, then customer-facing employees will be the ones receiving complaints. They can use their skills to try and placate customers but cannot correct the root causes of dissatisfaction on their own. This is why it’s vital that customer insight is collected from those throughout the organisation. Fixing fundamental issues is vital for a company’s longevity as well as helping to support frontline staff.

5.    Customers only care about price and customer service
Customers are motivated by many factors. Certainly price and customer service do come into the equation but so does brand, perception of product/service quality, position in search rankings, impact of advertising and PR and many other nuanced factors. The customer experience is multi-faceted and every interaction the customer has with your brand affects their satisfaction.

Every touch-point is important to customer experience. This is why it’s vital to capture as much information as possible so that the ongoing engagement a customer has with your brand is managed and weaknesses identified early on in the process.

In summary…
For most, if not all, firms there isn’t anything more important than the customer experience in terms of its overall impact on whole-company performance. Whilst those on the frontline are directly tasked with ensuring customer satisfaction, the truth is that unless everything else in the company runs as it should do, these staff can only do so much. You need a blend of engaged employees, good leadership and operational performance built on access to real-time customer satisfaction data. Begin by tackling the five customer service misconceptions above if you want to successfully understand your customers and ensure their long-term loyalty. 


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