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Adaptive IVR Blog

5 Best Practices for Delivering Great Customer Service

customer service, contact center optimizationThe skeptics say that customer service is an oxymoron…that great service is a lost art.  But in today’s highly competitive economy, we all know it’s critical to an organization’s success. The question is this: Are you making the right moves to differentiate your brand with great customer service?

Consider some data points:

  • 93% of companies say that customer experience (CX) is among their top strategic priorities, according to Forrester analyst Megan Burns.
  • 75% of CX professionals said that they use CX to differentiate themselves from competitors (“The State Of Customer Experience, 2012”).
  • Another 28% of companies say that customer experience is their number one strategic priority.

We all like to pat ourselves on the back for delivering great customer service. But,  what about when it comes to meeting customer expectations for great customer service?  Let’s just say there remains a lot of room for improvement.

For example, in 2013 Forrester reports that only 39% of companies earned an “excellent” or a “good” customer experience index rating. Even worse, almost two-thirds of brands were rated as delivering an “OK” to “very poor” customer experience. On top of all that, CX ratings have flat lined for the past six years, according to Forrester data.

Poor Customer Experience Happens to Us All

Have you ever pulled away from a drive-thru, and discovered that you didn’t get that snack you ordered? Or called your bank or cable company to get information, get distracted, call back, and have to start the authentication process all over again?  Of course you have. At best, these scenarios represent poor customer experience. At worst, they frustrate customers, damage your brand and drain both your top and bottom lines.

Consider the negative impacts of poor customer service. For example, when you lose customers to poor service, you also lose their lifetime value too. Not to mention the sales and marketing cost of acquiring those customers in the first place. Then there’s the cost of acquiring new customers to replace those who defect. On top of that, add the cost of lost referrals, and collateral damage to your brand. Bottom line: for successful businesses to grow, losing customers because of poor customer experience delivery cannot be tolerated.

On the flip side, great customer service can drive customer retention and add to top line growth. “Good customer experiences have a quantifiable revenue impact,” says Kate Leggett, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. “A happy customer is a loyal one, and loyal customers are more likely to spend their wallets with companies over the long term.” Read more.

With the proliferation of mobile and social media, the contact center technology ecosystem has become increasingly complex. Back in the day, frustrated customers might tell a few friends and family about a bad service experience.  But in today’s hyper-connected world, consumers can go viral with complaints and quickly put your brand and your bottom line at risk.

Five Best Practices

Leggett says that one reason good service is so hard to deliver is because the contact center ecosystem has become so complex. 77% of companies surveyed by Forrester said improving the online experience is a key objective. Additionally, over 60% plan to add or enhance CX in their mobile channel.  In today’s post, I want to share 5 best practices that will help you deliver consistent CX across all the channels you support.  

  1. Make sure your contact center agents have access to customer history across all interaction channels. Read more.
  2. Be sure your agents use consistent processes, and have access to the same customer intelligence, to ensure consistent, low-effort, contact center resolution, regardless of the channel your customers select. Read more.
  3. Don’t cut corners on customer service -- not in what Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff calls the Age of the Customer. Some companies cut corners on customer care. Others avoid the obvious customer experience (CX) speed bumps, but get lost in the business-as-usual crowd. In short, have a single-minded focus on connecting with customers. Give them what they need to win a bigger share of their wallet.
  4. Make it easier for your customers to find the right channel for them, based on the complexity and urgency of the service they need.
  5. Focus on eliminating bad CX, even in conventional channels where customer service is perceived as traditionally bad. Just because customer expectations are low in a specific channel, doesn’t mean you have to settle for the status quo.  In fact, continuity of your brand and delivered customer experience is essential. Don’t fall prey to the weakest link.

    Contact Solutions has delivered numerous CX improvements and recommendations for contact centers over the years. But if I could pass along just one crucial tip, it would be this: don’t settle for good enough in any of your customer service channels.

    To be a customer service leader, you must continuously benchmark and improve. We can help with that!
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Topics: Customer Care