Tag Archive for customer service

The Importance of Consistency in Customer Service

Pleasing Customers Increases Customer Satisfaction by 20% and Revenue by 15%

 

 

When it comes to customer service, consistency is key. One of the most important considerations for customers in choosing a particular brand is consistency in service delivery. A survey conducted by McKinsey & Company across 14 different industries concluded that pleasing customers with the expected level of quality increases customer satisfaction by 20% and it also helps the company increase revenues by more than 15%.

It is critical to understand that winning customers and building loyalty takes time, and that in order to build good customer relationships, you need to deliver consistent service if you are to retain your customer’s hard-won loyalty. This is put nicely into perspective by the fact that customers, on average, will tell less than 10 other people about good service they have received, whereas the number is closer to 20 when it comes to letting people know about a bad experience.

Why is consistency valued so highly among customers?

Maintain Quality & Reliability

Consumers expect the same kind of quality each time they make a purchase or acquire a particular service. Customers base their expectations on their previous positive experiences, so it is the company’s responsibility to deliver the same level of services or beyond to ensure customer satisfaction. Consumers must be guaranteed that the products and services being sold to them will live up to their expectation and the product description.

 

Relationship Building & Emotional Consistency

The only way to build long-term relationships with customers is to offer dependable products and service. Being treated as a valuable customer both before and after a sale is of vital importance. In fact, to ensure repeat sales and customer loyalty, it is important that interactions with customers are consistent and quality based. The greater the emotional connection between your customer and your business, the higher the customer loyalty. After all, nothing is more trustworthy than consistency.

Obviously, no enterprise is perfect, and customers understand that. However, they are more likely to forgive an occasional misstep, provided the problem is handled quickly and with care. What customers will not tolerate is any kind of rudeness, neglect or failure to deliver on promises. This is put nicely into perspective by the fact that customers, on average, will tell less than 10 other people about good service they have received, whereas the number is closer to 20 when it comes to letting people know about a bad experience.

 

Communication

No matter how many loyalty programs a company offers, it won’t be able to win loyal customers until and unless the company offers consistency in communication. Communication with the business customers’ needs to be effective, to the point, and periodic. The only way customers can be expected to invest their money, time and effort into a product or service is through free and open interactions. To be able to successfully communicate at each customer touch point, strategies need to be developed for different areas of communication. These touch points can be appropriately used to strengthen the relationship with the clients and communicate all the relevant information in a timely fashion.

Furthermore, you can conduct online surveys and invite customers to provide feedback on their experiences with your organization, in order to learn what is most important to them. Once you are aware of what the key issues are, you can fix them immediately. In addition, monitor customers on all their social streams to catch praise or dissatisfaction, both of which you can learn from.

In addition, always provide clients with a time frame for expecting your response and consider setting up automated responses to incoming client emails, to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

 

 

Customer Journey

Businesses should also keep in mind that it is not just the product or service that needs consistency, but the overall customer journey, which includes pre-sale engagement, actual sale and after sales services. The combined total of all these interactions with the company make up the customer journey. Customers who have all the control in the competitive industry are very perceptive and they pay attention to every little detail, which means that the company can’t afford to compromise on any component of customer journey. Customers expect the same level of service quality during each stage of the customer journey. If a company consistently pays attention to detail and offers high quality services, it would result in long term relationships with customers.

We found that a company’s performance on journeys is 35% more predictive of customer satisfaction than performance on individual touchpoints. Since a customer journey often touches different parts of the organization, companies need to rewire themselves to create teams that are responsible for the end-to-end customer journey across functions.

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Customer Service Tips From a 14 Year Old

teen interview

 

My son, who is 14, just had his first job interview at the local pool. It’s a summer job that entails cleaning locker rooms, changing out the garbage, and other menial tasks. He was thrilled to get an interview, and even more thrilled when they hired him on the spot.

Later that night we were talking about the interview – did he make good eye contact, shake the interviewer’s hand, speak slowly and clearly, and give thoughtful answers? As he shared some of the questions and his responses, I was not surprised that he was hired on the spot.

The one that stood out to me the most was his answer to the question, “If hired, why do you think you have a responsibility to keep the locker rooms and pool grounds clean?” Before he shared his answer, I tried to guess what a 14 year old might say. Typical responses may be, “Because that’s what I will be hired to do” or “because I’m a responsible person and will do what is expected of me” or something along those lines.

My son’s response was interesting, and one that employees who provide customer service should follow. He simply explained that he would put himself in the pool guests’ shoes – what would he like to see when visiting the pool? He’d like a clean, well maintained place to enjoy the day. If that’s what guests would like, then he would need to provide that as a support staff member.

He makes a good point – as an employee who provides a service or interacts with customers, it’s wise to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. How would they like to be treated? Will their experience be different if you smile and make a bit of pleasant conversation as they are making a purchase? If someone couldn’t answer a question for you, which would you prefer – a curt, “I’m not sure, sorry I can’t help” or “I’m not quite sure, but let me find you someone that can help?”

Sometimes we don’t think of the customer and what they are experiencing through their interactions with us. Other times we may think our work is menial and doesn’t make a difference in the big picture of the company. But, as my son realizes, it does – a clean locker room, in his opinion, can affect a guest’s experience, and as a new employee, he will work to make sure it is as he would like to see it.

A very simple lesson, but a great way for staff to think as they go about their workday.

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My Journey Through Inconsistency (Part 2)

 

My last post started the story of a simple cell phone upgrade that has gone horribly wrong.

 

So we’re on day two and we still have no phone. I did walk through the online process one more time to be sure I was seeing things correctly, and then did some quick math on the lesser of the two financial evils. I decided to go back to the store and see what happens from there.

 

The same woman is there from my last visit, and remembers me coming in. That was nice. I explain that I would like to upgrade and she asks if we were still considering the iPhone free upgrade. I ask again about the cost, and she mentions the activation fee, but not the other costs. Untrusting, I go ahead with it anyway – I have other things to do.

 

This process went much more quickly, and she was even able to transfer the phone from my account to my daughter’s right then and there. I asked when the additional $10/mo would start on my line. Confused, she says it won’t because this new phone is going to my daughter’s line, which already has the cost. Huh, that’s new. As I’m reviewing the paperwork, I look to make sure she’s right on this, and so far, it looks good. She tests my current phone to make sure it’s working again since the transfer, and all seems well. Finally, an easy process!

 

I head for home and we are all set. Or so I think….I noticed that my phone was unusually quiet – no emails or Facebook updates, though I did get a text or two. I didn’t think about it another second, as I was thrilled the process was over.

 

Until the next day.

 

As I’m enjoying my morning coffee, I use the time to catch up on my emails on my phone. Wait, I’ve gotten NO emails (work or personal) in the last 12 hours? Impossible. I send myself a test email, and it doesn’t go through. I fiddle with the phone for a few minutes and figure it’s just spacing out for a while.

 

A few hours later I notice I’m still not functional with my phone, so I go back to the online chat. A very nice young man offers to check it out for me, and says that he sees upgrades in my area and a potential outage. He assures me that the network will be restored no later than the following morning. Since this is the first outage I experienced ever, I was okay with that. I did mention that I had just upgraded a line on my account the night before and had to re-transfer my phone to my account and asked if that could be an issue, and he stuck to the outage story.

 

Since this has been a journey in inconsistency, I decided to try another employee to see if I get the same response. That evening I call instead of chat and another very nice woman offers to help me. She looks over my account and walks me through a few troubleshooting steps. She explained that, when I had everything changed over the day before, I should have re-registered my phone so it can be picked up on the network. I did as she instructed, and presto – here come a slew of emails! I thank her profusely and realize that I am really, finally done with this experience!

 

As you can see, not one of their employees was unprofessional, unpleasant, or acted in a manner that would make me feel as though they did not provide good customer service. However, the inconsistent messages I got along the way, coupled with the effort needed for me to make what I thought would be a simple upgrade, made the experience less stellar than I’m sure they would want.

 

In thinking about this in hindsight, I’ve learned a few things:

 

1. It’s possible that their staff at various touchpoints (online, phone, in store) may be trained differently or provided with only pieces of information they may need to help customers. Since I got a different version of the story on some level at each point along the way, I wondered if it was a training issue. It could also very well be that each area only has access to certain information or tools, or they don’t know how to go further in the process. For example, why was the gentleman on the chat not able to see that I recently upgraded, and that may be causing my outage issue (or wasn’t given the knowledge to look at that as a red flag), whereas the second person I talked to was able to figure it out right away? Is it because he wasn’t trained properly, or does he not have the same access to my account as the telephone staff?

 

2. After all that, I didn’t walk away. Why is that? Well, this is a unique situation, because really I’m stuck with them. While my portion of the contract was up at the time, my two daughters still had a lot of time left, so we had no choice without paying the high termination fees. I will say though this made me check out the competition to see if I had any other options in the future when all of the contracts do run out.

 

3. Customer effort can make the difference between a raving fan and “just a customer.” I’ve always been generally pleased with the company, but this experience has given me pause. Would I recommend them to others? I might but I would caution people to really check the details, and perhaps confirm through two forms of communication with the company. Customers shouldn’t have to do that though.

 

4. I wonder if this inconsistency affected the employees. As you’ll recall, Jessica gave me a link to place my online order, which I mentioned was the same site I was already on. I now wonder if that was a special landing page that would give her credit for the sale (that never happened). If that’s the case, I really feel badly for her, and I feel bad that the company is hindering the employee’s opportunity to be successful.

 

5. They may never know about this experience. At no point through the process did I get an invitation to provide feedback. In the past, I have gotten invitations to take a web based survey with this company. I did receive a phone call that I wasn’t able to answer, which did say they were calling about my in store experience. However, I have no way to respond since it was a missed call. It is unclear if it is up to the employee to provide the survey invitation or not, but it does not appear to be an automatic practice.

 

A feedback survey may not provide enough of a picture to pinpoint these types of issues, as many do not offer comment boxes for more detailed responses. My immediate thought was the utilizing a “Plant a Shopper” mystery shopping program could illustrate potential breakdowns and inconsistencies such as this; having a typical customer evaluate their journey while doing business with any company can be enlightening and extremely beneficial.

 

All in all, life is back to normal. I did think it was a great example of inconsistency in a customer’s journey and was worth sharing. Have you had a similar experience with a company? Share it with the community – the more examples that we share, the more ideas it can give companies to ensure they are causing the least amount of friction and effort in the buying process, which helps everyone!

 

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