Why Quality Customer Relationships Matter – Part II – The Experience

Did you know that the average person spends about 13 hours a year waiting on hold to resolve a customer issue? This is more than just an annoyance and an inconvenience, it’s a big red flag about the overall state of customer service. And it begs the question, why does it seem like so few companies care about exceeding expectations? Do they even know they’re setting the bar so low?

In this article, we’ll look at what separates the “meh” from the marvelous when it comes to customer service and how companies can know which end of the spectrum they’re on. But first, let’s consider why mediocre service is so common nowadays.

Why do people accept mediocre customer service?

The internet is awash with customer horror stories about customer service failures. Surly service workers, products that didn’t work, and/or providers who didn’t do a good job, or didn’t do the job at all. Most of us have personal stories of our own to add to the pile.

But with customer service on a measurable decline, why do people seem to accept it?

For the most part, it’s not that customers accept bad service without protest, it’s that they feel they have no recourse. And, they’re probably right. According to Harvard Business Review, poor customer service is actually an intentional strategy on the part of some businesses. They purposely make it difficult for consumers to get in touch with live customer support agent.  This strategy is a way to limit losses from redress payouts. And customers feel it. More than 75% report feeling less than satisfied with the service they received from a given company.

The good news is, with the bar set rather low, it’s not difficult for companies to set themselves apart from the competition by soaring over it. But you can’t improve what you don’t know, so the first step in boosting customer service is gauging the current customer experience.

Gauging the customer experience

How can businesses know if they’re flying high or failing miserably with their customer service? There are lots of indicators to be found in data on sales, especially repeat sales, but the most potent and reliable source of information is the feedback provided by the customer.

Whether it comes in the form of company-sponsored surveys, online reviews, or just what people are saying about the brand on social media, customer feedback is worth its weight in gold. Smart businesses won’t just give it a glance, they’ll go over every piece of feedback with a fine-toothed comb.

This is where transparency comes into play for many companies. The C-suite and other decision makers need to be kept in the loop about the on-the-ground customer experience, not just high-level business and marketing strategies.  Most executives want to be informed about what customers think, with 97% of CEOs agreeing that customer satisfaction is essential to business success. One approach that’s gaining traction is adding a Chief Customer Officer to the executive roster, to ensure that customer service is kept front and center in every initiative.

How businesses can elevate their customer experience

Having a CCO at the top of the org chart is a great first step to elevating the customer experience. Building quality customer relationships has to be tackled at every level of the organization.

Because the customer experience mirrors the employee experience. In other words, unhappy workers don’t produce five-star service. Moving the customer experience from mediocre to mind-blowing starts with the company taking a hard look at what it represents and how it treats its most valuable asset – its employees.

Businesses should start by asking themselves if their employees are supported and empowered to go above and beyond. If employees don’t have the knowledge and tools to exceed expectations, how can they be expected to deliver top-notch service? Customer service training doesn’t have to be a lengthy or exhaustive endeavor. Virtual learning platforms like Jigsaw Interactive make it easy to create and deliver customized training solutions on a range of topics, including customer service excellence. Schedule a demo to see how it works.

If you need more convincing on why it’s not enough to offer middling and mediocre service, it helps to know the true cost of disappointing customers, in dollars and cents. In the final article, we’ll look at how customer relationships impact a business’s bottom line.