November 8, 2011
Today, the gap between a customer’s expectations and the service they receive is huge. Customers are increasingly knowledgeable about products and demand value-added, personalized service.
Companies know that good service is important: 90% of customer service decision-makers tell Forrester that it’s critical to their company’s success, and 63% think its importance has risen. Yet companies struggle to offer an experience that meets their customers’ expectations at a cost that make sense to them, especially in these economically challenging times.
The end result for companies is significant: escalating service costs, customer satisfaction numbers at rock-bottom levels, and anecdotes of poor service experiences amplified over social channels that can lead to brand erosion.
Mastering the customer service experience is hard to do. Focusing on the end-to-end experience can help you move the needle in a positive direction. In this 10-part blog series, I will outline one tip each day that you should think about.
Tip 1: Do you know how your customers want to interact with you?
Customers know what good service is and demand it from each interaction they have, over any communication channel that they use. Forrester’s data shows that in general, customers still prefer to use the phone, closely followed by email and web self-service. That being said, customer demographics affect channel preference with the younger generation more comfortable using peer-to-peer communication and instant service channels like chat. Its important to understand the demographics and communication preferences of your customers.
A case in point is American Airlines, which, after an innovative Mobile Technographics® assessment, realized that 41% of its passengers were comfortable leveraging their cell phone’s SMS and wireless Internet capabilities, while the 29% of its customers who were “super-connected” were comfortable using the majority of their mobile device features. American Airlines crafted its mobile strategy to target its typical customers with email and SMS alerts and offered a mobile website for more advanced transactions for their super-connected customers.
Another example is VMWare, which wanted to leverage the extensive content in its knowledge base as a way to deflect calls from its contact center. Instead of focusing on customers to visit the VMWare website, the firm pushed content out to where its customers were spending their time. VMWare created multimedia content and cross-posted it to YouTube; it also created a Twitter handle, @VMWareKB, which now has more than 8,000 followers. Proactive notifications on one issue generated 90,000 knowledge base views, yet resulted in fewer than 100 inquiries to tech support representatives. Overall, VMWare’s service strategy has saved the firm more than $10 million a year and pushes new knowledge to customers.
Ask yourself who your customers are. Do you make sure that you are engaging with them in the manner in which they want to engage with you?
Nine more tips to come . . .