We ran across an article recently that really intrigued us. The title alone is enough to draw you in: “Consumers have had enough, ‘rage survey says'”.
In it, Herb Weisbaum explains that, according to a recent survey, customer service seems to be worse than it was just a couple of years ago. Consumers are angry, desperate, and just plain fed up with problems that aren’t being resolved.
So, what’s happening? Do companies just not care anymore? Weisbaum says,
“The report blames poor execution. Many companies are ‘doing all the right things, the wrong way.’ … ‘It ranges from how they do their training, to the various policies they put in place, and bad use of technology’… In order to reduce costs, many companies try to drive customers to the Internet. A web chat or email complaint is much cheaper to handle than a phone conversation with a service agent. But it’s much harder to give the customers what they’re looking for in that online environment.”
He goes on to write,
Customers are 11 times more likely to call than to use the internet to complain.
Now, wouldn’t you think (in a technological world) that people would rather solve a problem over some quick email correspondence? After all, isn’t that easier? Maybe.
But look at it from your own perspective. Think back to the last time you were genuinely upset about a product or service. And you wanted the company who provided it to handle the situation immediately. Did you want to send an email out into the abyss, just to receive back a generic “we received your email, and we’ll get back with you in 24 hours” message? No. You didn’t want to wait 24 hours. You wanted to talk to someone. You wanted someone to hear your frustration. You didn’t want there to be any confusion. You wanted to speak with someone who could help you… and you wanted it now.
Now, imagine that is your customer. We don’t have to tell you how important that phone conversation is. The way your representative handles that call will determine whether that customer stays with you or not. Period. Weisbaum states in the previously mentioned article that, “badly-handled customer service is worse than no customer service at all. People who receive poor customer service after a problem become 12 percent less brand loyal than if they didn’t bother to complain at all.” In other words, you have to resolve your customers’ problems the right way.
Now, you must be convinced—your call takers’ responses to your customers mean everything. So, where do you go from here?
Here are a few tips:
- Simplify your phone trees and hold times. Weisbaum says, “We expect the companies we do business with to be there for us when there’s a problem after the sale. But all too often, they’re not.” Long holds and complicated processes give your customer time to get even more frustrated. Making it quicker and simpler for the consumer to reach a live individual can help keep the customer calm.
- Apologize. It’s way too simple to be true—but it is. “The survey found that when companies added a free remedy, such as an apology, to any monetary relief, customer satisfaction doubled.” Doubled! An apology has a major return on investment.
- Treat others the way you want to be treated. The survey from Weisbaum’s article indicated that people want to be “treated with dignity and courtesy,” and that they want a representative that is “knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and patient.” If you think about it, that’s everything you would want in a customer service representative, isn’t it?
- It’s time to start recording your calls. Call recording gives you the unique opportunity to be a “fly on the wall” during your call takers’ interactions with each customer. This service will not only give you a chance to correct any negative behavior, but you can also use those recordings for both rewarding your employees and training new representatives. (Training is easier and more effective when there are recordings of specific customer calls to reference.)
Don’t view customer service as a cost. View it as an investment.
“There’s clearly a benefit to better customer service and a real cost for poor service,” Scott Broetzmann says. “Businesses are losing billions of dollars a year because of lousy customer service.”
You can’t see customer service as a “bonus.” It needs to be an integral part of your business.
Give us a call or contact us about how we can help. We’d love to join you on your journey to satisfy customers.