Providing a quality customer experience is one of the most important challenges facing organisations in 2015. Consumers are more empowered than ever before. They are willing to share their bad experiences on blogs and via social media and they are also less inert when it comes to changing the companies that provide products and services to them.
What exactly constitutes a good customer experience is something that could be debated extensively. But most people would concur that a good customer experience would include elements of recognition, personalisation, efficiency and appreciation. Failure to deliver this and the consequences are clear.
The ultimate sign that your customer experience isn’t up to scratch, is of course, seeing your customers go elsewhere. Few things are as dispiriting in business as your customers leaving you for your competitors. Customer churn can be addressed once it is underway, but it is far easier and more effective to address this before it even happens. Here are some of the tell-tale signs that your customer experience isn’t what it should be.
1. Staff churn
Working on the front-line with customers can be a hugely rewarding job. Helping someone address an issue or providing them with exceptional service is gratifying and makes the job worthwhile. That’s just as well, because at times, it’s also a very challenging job. Whether you’re an associate, advisor or agent, you can be on the phone for eight hours a day or more, speaking with people that often have had an issue of some sort and may well be angry.
You might be defending products, pricing and general policy and it can be tough. If it gets too tough, people will undoubtedly vote with their feet. If this is happening in significant numbers, then it’s time to review elements of the customer experience you are offering.
2. Social chatter
This is fast becoming one of the key contemporary indicators of customer dissatisfaction. Most organisations will have some form of social media monitoring in place, tracking conversations about their brand that are taking place on social networks. Savvy consumers take to social media because they know it’s the channel that’s probably closest to the senior team, whether it’s someone sitting in PR / corporate affairs, or even the MD or CEO.
If there is a noticeable increase in such social chatter, with consumers discussing brand’s poor service or quality of products, then that brand will ignore it at their peril, because the next step will be those customers taking their business elsewhere.
3. Poor NPS
Those of us in the customer experience industry will be growing very familiar with NPS, or Net Promoter Score. NPS is based on the idea that a company’s customers can be separated into three categories - Promoters, Passives, and Detractors – all of which are given a points rating. An organisation works out its NPS by taking the percentage of customers who are Promoters and subtract the percentage who are Detractors.
NPS is a business calculation and is used to measure performance through customers’ eyes, benchmarking against the competition to evaluate a customer’s propensity to recommend or buy again. It is not a traditional customer satisfaction programs, and simply measuring your NPS does not lead to success. But an increase in Detractors and a reduction in Promoters is most definitely not a sign that all is well with the customer experience on offer.
4. Declining CSAT
Customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) are a much more traditional measure of customer satisfaction than NPS. CSAT is expressed as a percentage, with 100% meaning complete customer satisfaction. If a company attains CSAT scores in the high 80s or 90s, then it’s a fair bet that the customer experience they are providing is a good one.
One potential issue with CSAT is that it doesn’t account for the fact that customers that are either slightly dissatisfied or mildly happy, are unlikely to take the time and trouble to fill in a customer satisfaction survey. This can skew results, so CSAT is by no means completely accurate in itself. But that’s certainly not say it should be ignored and a downward trend in CSAT scores can be taken as an indication of general unhappiness with the customer experience.
5. Increased complaints, decreased referrals
This is essentially the results from NPS brought to life. While customers might not be quite ready to take their business elsewhere, they are probably not too far away. Complaints are increasing, referrals are decreasing and the general customer chatter is mostly negative.
This is tracked on social media and on customer calls, with tell-tale signs to look out for including comments about a company’s attitude and mentioning of certain keywords – ‘wait’, ‘hold’, ‘called again’ are all obvious but highly relevant examples.
When customers start going elsewhere it’s a sure sign that the customer experience isn’t what it could and should be. But it needn’t come to that. There are enough measures and ways of tracking what customers are thinking for any brand to change the way they manage customers, before they jump ship. Organisations will ignore these at their peril.
Mike Hughes is MD of customer management consultancy PeopleTECH.