Are these the five biggest hurdles to successful customer service?

Hurdles
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In today’s economic climate, customer service remains a key competitive differentiator.

However, a desire for customer-centricity and the ability of a firm to actually achieve this is often the difference between market leaders and those lagging behind.

Many organisations are struggling to meet expectations – let alone exceed them – and one of the key reasons for this is because they fail to use feedback to properly determine, and consequentially repair, the root cause of customer grievances.

Used properly, this insight can be used to eliminate the five most common hurdles that hinder the customer experience.

1. Failing to deliver on promises

No matter what service level a company operates at, understanding the expectations of its customers and ensuring that they are being delivered should be the starting point. Companies that over promise and under-deliver will be deluged with complaints, whilst companies that under-promise and over-deliver will often fail to attract customers in the first place.

The key to high quality customer service is for an organisation to rigorously assess its service offering, market those capabilities effectively and honestly, and then to live up to that commitment. Rather than being wowed, most customers are content with a ‘does what it says on the tin’ approach. Organisations should concentrate on achieving this before attempting to go the extra mile.

2. Inability to connect the dots

In order to understand the voice of the customer, firms need to have a comprehensive view of customer contact across all touchpoints. Integrated customer feedback systems are now a need-to-have, rather than a nice-to-have, as they mean that all customer feedback is captured consistently across the increasingly wide range of channels now available to the consumer.

More importantly it gives organisations a holistic picture of their customers’ needs and wants, and therefore the ability to service them more effectively. After all, how can you possibly act to remove the issues causing detriment if you do not have an accurate view across your entire organisation of what they are?

3. Falling behind the curve on social media

Social media is no longer new, but the challenge it represents for customer service teams is still a burden. Social media used to be a last resort for frustrated customers to escalate a complaint when they had failed to elicit a response through the traditional channels. However, it is now the first port of call for those choosing to bypass phone and email in the hope of capitalising on the public nature of these platforms. Firms need to consider whether insufficient customer contact, service and feedback processes are driving them to do this.

The urgency and negative public potential of social media can also pressurise customer service teams into seeking instant appeasement of dissatisfied customers by cutting corners and operating outside of established systems and processes. Firms wanting to get a handle on social customer service will need to ensure that any complaints – or compliments – are fed into their central feedback engine so that they are aggregated, investigated and repaired in the same way. Here a consistent picture of missed expectation across all channels is critical. 

4. Not taking a forensic approach

Businesses thrive on the satisfaction of their customers, and whilst many are happy to gauge the voice of their customers via polls and surveys many do not interrogate their complaints data. By understanding the drivers of dissatisfaction, businesses can remove these barriers and ensure that future customers do not have to contend with the same issues.

Identifying the root cause of a problem – and then fixing it – will always be the best way to improve customer satisfaction, boost retention, eliminate a complaint reoccurring and enjoy the numerous business benefits related to more effective systems and processes.

5. Missing opportunities for actionable insights

Customer satisfaction aside, the other key benefit of customer feedback is the insight that it can provide to a business. By mining this data firms can see their systems and processes from the customer’s point of view. This can often help to prevent unexpected processing errors, customer-service bottlenecks and other inefficiencies from impacting efficiency and causing irreversible damage to the brand.

Of course, this feedback doesn’t only come from customers: employees can provide incredibly useful insight due to their position on the frontline of customer contact. 

Today’s customer service teams face many challenges, from creating a customer service approach that translates across social media to meeting increasingly tough customer expectations. All whilst keeping careful track of the information involved in each and every interaction so that it can be used to drive business improvements.

Organisations in all sectors will need to overcome these barriers by encouraging a culture whereby customer service is valued from the top down. However, just as critical will be ensuring that they have the people, processes and platform in place to deliver the service that customers now expect and demand.

Paul Clark is Senior Manager at EY.

About Paul Clark

Paul Clark

An enthusiastic and creative consultant with more than ten years of experience in a variety of industries both private and public sector, including life sciences, telecoms, media and entertainment, technology, consumer products and utilities.

I lead projects to help clients to define and implement their digital strategies, design and improve their customer experience, understand and segment customers, optimise customer service operations, generate compelling value propositions and find new ways to reach their customers and do business.

Specialities: Customer experience improvement
Value proposition definition and business model innovation
Customer and Digital strategy
Customer journey analysis
Digital and social media, social customer service improvement
Customer segmentation
Go to Market strategy

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14th Nov 2014 15:44

There are some great tips here Paul. Companies have an ever-increasing volume of customer service interactions, and they can mine this information, alongside customer feedback systems to capture even more insight. More on how to do this in this recent Eptica blog post http://eptica.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/linking-customer-service-and-voc/

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