£37 billion. That’s the cost of poor customer service for the UK economy (Consumer Action Monitor).
But hey, with your UK-only call centres, focus on digital engagement and considerable CX tech investments, you’re the bastion against ‘bad customer service’, aren’t you? After all, over on that polished shelf sit several “best place to work” trophies, alongside which are your numerous CX awards and accolades – all testament to exceptional customer service, each one influential on that high “net promoter score”.
But you see…you’re missing the point.
Do your customers really care?
The fundamental principle of marketing and service is to always ask, with every message you communicate, each action you take – “What’s In It For Me?”. But from your customers’ standpoint.
Buzz words and vanity awards are worthless if they don’t translate to tangible outcomes for your customer experience. As customer complaints are sky rocketing and showing no sign of abating, corporates would do well to take a step back in order to get to grips with what customers really, truly care about.
WIIFM? – Five things your customers care about
The following five areas of customer concern are likely as old as commerce itself. Despite a steep rate of technological advancement, and never mind the latest hype being bandied by consultants and technology vendors, these concerns endure.
- Choice and value
The simplest of all customer expectations is to receive a product or service of value, and of the value that they expect. Alongside which they wish to have choice in the ways and when they engage with a company. Simple, yet seemingly overlooked and underappreciated by many businesses.
- Being seen and treated as an individual, not just another number
Gone are the days of “one-size fits all” services and products. In todays intelligence- and data-driven world, consumers expect a bespoke experience. Truly tailored customer service leads not only to customers feeling valued, but to further opportunities – upselling, cross-selling and customer referrals.
This is no truer than when applied to millennials and gen-z’ers – those who both account for 46% of all B2B buyers (Google/Millward Brown), and those who expect companies to already know much about how to exceed their needs. These individuals are the epitome of technologically-driven expectations – but they’re also far readier to up and leave a company as compared to their seniors.
- Promises made and kept
Promises, promises – from a missed return phone call, to sending an engineer to fix a problem who arrives late (or not at all). Over promising and under delivering has sadly become the norm – an expectation that the consumer is likely going to be let down. So commonplace is this, that when promises are kept the experience becomes more memorable for the customer! Get it right consistently, even on the simplest promise, and positive word of mouth and loyal customers await.
- Privacy – Respect and protect it
Yahoo!, TalkTalk and Sony have each fallen foul to data breaches – accounting for millions upon millions of credit card numbers, names and bank details purged by the criminal IT underworld.
Share prices plummeted, mass customer exoduses ensued and multi-billion dollar mergers failed. Moral of the story? Customers have never been more concerned about their privacy and data than they are today. Pay heed to these tales of woe by treating customer privacy and data as the most valuable business asset you own.
- Problems solved, first time around
A problem is a problem. A solution none forthcoming is customer despair! As some companies have stoically held onto UK call centres, they’ve introduced bot-driven systems in an attempt to reduce their cost base. Whilst such bots hold immense promise, poorly and hurriedly implemented ones are compounding the customer misery. Ultimately, customers are both used to and universally frustrated at being pushed from pillar, to post, to pillar and onwards. They simply want their problem resolved right then, right there. It might just be the Holy Grail of customer service to get this right – but the returns could be just as significant.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Good customer service is an almighty challenge – and all things considered, the ‘simple’ expectations of customers are not-so-simple when practicalities, logistics and business processes are added to the mix. However, this serves only to underline the importance of beginning with these five solid building blocks of customer care – and focussing on these alone, rather than on the latest alluring technology, industry-leading accolade or freshest digital engagement trend.
“Big business” in particular must lead by example and turn around a wildly off-route ship. They must return to basics and harness the vast swathes of customer feedback data they have if they’re to not only weather what are stormy times for UK businesses, but achieve more than fair-weather consumers who are happy, loyal and profitable for the long-term.