According to Statista, the most important aspects of a good customer service experience are getting the issue resolved in a single interaction, a knowledgeable customer service representative, and not repeating information if a new agent is brought in. In addition, customers don’t like having a hard time reaching a live agent and being unable to resolve the issue by themselves (more on how to solve this in our webinar and on this use case page).
In 2020, 40% of customers stopped doing business with a company due to poor customer service in the US. And, since customers today have higher customer service expectations than in recent years, providing a great customer service experience is no longer a bonus—but a requirement to retain otherwise loyal customers.
So what makes a great customer experience? Let’s take a look.
Breaking down a great customer experience
While the customer experience will clearly differ between industries and organization sizes, there are a few key elements as outlined by Bain & Company. The firm says this about great customer experiences:
Great customer experiences produce great business results. Look at companies such as Apple, Costco, American Express, Philips and Allianz. Different industries, different business models. But they have one thing in common—large and growing groups of passionate customer advocates, earned by delivering an experience competitors can’t match. That, more than anything else, is why these companies lead their industries in profitable organic growth.
In the same piece, they also outline three insights that can help make up a brand’s unique customer experience:
- Understand loyalty economics.
- View the experience from the outside in.
- Design and deliver.
Taking these three pillars into account, we can identify a thorough scope of customer experience as we build out more of our tenets.
Loyalty is the financial reason we put money into customer experience, and, symbiotically, it’s the outcome of a remarkable customer experience, and increases revenue, brand awareness, and growth of market share. Understanding the ecosystem is a vital first step.
Once we’re on board with loyalty, there are two aspects of creating a unique experience. The first is to remove oneself from the equation—take a step back and experience the brand as an outside. Feel the friction. Praise the bright spots.
Then, refinement can happen. The steps to create and implement a customer experience strategy might be involved, but they’ll be worthwhile (and easier) once the first foundations have been set.
How to deliver a great customer experience
Moving on, we can look at key ingredients into what makes a great customer experience, adapting them into your own brand’s strategy.
1. Respond and resolve the problem quickly.
Aim to resolve each customer service request within one interaction and as quickly as possible. That means the customer shouldn’t have to call back another time. “Quickly” also means you need to do everything you can to lower hold and handle time—and we’ve seen how a best-in-class callback solution does both.
Value a customer’s time by making speed the goal, especially for smaller issues or common requests. Customers expect social media response times to be within the same day, at a minimum. So, agents should strive to offer support immediately during business hours so that customers are not left waiting.
Alternatively, shift their perception of “wait” time by providing them with a scheduled call. The immediacy of scheduling a call scratches the itch to get help, and customers that choose a callback are willing to wait 300% longer while still being a promoter.
2. Maintain a knowledgeable customer support staff.
Each customer service agent should know everything about the product or service they help customers with and answers to the most commonly asked questions and terms of service across the company. Customer support is very important to brand loyalty for 66% of people, and the most frustrating thing customers deal with when talking to customer support is a lack of knowledge.
Educate your customer service agents about everything that one of their customers could ask about. They should be a product expert for their division and understand the basics of the company at large in case a customer ends up with them and has questions about other services or products—which means providing quality customer service is paramount to keeping a loyal consumer base
While you can’t give all knowledge to every single agent, you can equip agents with what they need to know by collecting information up front. Use a digital call scheduling solution that can take in customer intents and pass them to the agent before they even answer the phone. Or utilize automated texting to collect information between when they schedule their call and are connected.
No matter how you attack it, deliver as much information to the agent as possible to lower handle times and surprise the customer when their entire problem is understood before they even answer.
3. Retain notes between representatives.
If you need to transfer the customer between representatives, make sure that all notes about the issue are shared with them, so they don’t have to repeat their problem multiple times. As the second-largest issue customers have with representatives and companies, having to repeat information to support teams could cause customer loyalty to decrease over time.
Maintain notes about customers by maintaining a customer relations management program (CRM) in connection with your ACD and telephony stack. This software should allow for call recording, note-taking, and complaint filing so that anything that happens on a call is linked with the customer’s file and can be transferred between agents.
4. Enhance your self-service option.
Self-service options are table stakes for any brand in 2022. Over 70% of customers dealing with the government, and almost 60% of customers dealing with private companies, already try to solve their issues before contacting customer support.
The use of AI and chatbots is proliferating. But as self-service options grow and AI continues to develop, 100% digital containment is still a long ways off, and, at some point, a customer will need to speak to a human.
This is the moment where things typically break down. The divide between digital and voice is felt both by teams and by customers. And it costs you loyalty and revenue.
This is your chance to wow the customer. Offer really easy ways for them to get in touch with your contact center. And make sure it’s trackable, so you can see where they’re reaching a dead end, transition them to voice, and fill in the gaps of your digital strategy while also developing trust in your brand.
5. Multi-channel matters.
In order to deliver exceptional service, especially to your always-connected millennial customers, businesses must provide up-to-date, accurate, and easily accessible information via multiple channels (website, apps, text, phone, in person).
6. There’s no replacing the human touch.
Your service agents are critical to your customer’s experience. Ultimately, they’re a human representation of your brand, and if they’re able to win over your customers, your brand will, too. It’s imperative to train your reps to have positive, energetic, sincere engagement with your customers and to equip them with the information they need to create seamless transitions between the online and in-person experience.
7. Go above and beyond.
Seize opportunities to do more than you have to. Turn negative experiences into positive ones, disarm your customers by quickly and efficiently fixing their mistakes and getting them back to the things that really matter.
Sometimes tech can make it feel like you’ve gone above the customer’s expectation. Simply by showing up to a conversation with knowledge of the customer and their needs, you may have already exceeded their expectations. Collecting information between the digital and voice transition might be all it takes—but your customer will think you moved mountains when an agent shows up to a call prepared for the customer.
A great customer experience isn’t the byproduct of a rip-and-replace strategy. There’s no pill to swallow that enhances the way everyone shows up for customers. It takes methodical changes in approach and an entire culture shift to a customer-centric focus.
This post was originally published in January 2014, and has since been updated.