Strong customer service helps you create loyalty, increase product awareness, and encourage future purchases. Everyone wants to create the perfect customer service experience, but many businesses are building their processes on false assumptions and insufficient metrics. If your customer service paradigm is focused on outdated ideals, you’re missing out on major opportunities to connect with your modern customer base.
Today’s consumers are savvy to the traditional approach to customer service and satisfaction. They want quality service without the sense of being minimized or fed through a scripted system. Take a closer look at the truth behind today’s most popular customer service myths, and you may uncover a fresh new way to boost customer loyalty and satisfaction where it really matters.
Myth One: The Loudest Complaint Deserves the Most Attention
While it’s important to address persistently dissatisfied customers, you don’t want to give a disproportionate amount of your time to complainers. Most companies ultimately find that just five to 10 percent of their customers are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. It’s tempting to devote a major portion of your time to the persistently dissatisfied, hoping that your endless patience and ongoing attention will win them over.
Customer service professionals can sometimes slip into the mindset of the service recovery paradox. This theory states that a customer will think more highly of a company that resolved a problem or recovered from a mistake than they would if the company provided non-faulty service to begin with. While there is undeniable value in customer recovery, you don’t want to spend a disproportionate amount of time on unhappy clients. Resolving a single complaint isn’t as important as streamlining the overarching process that caused the complaint to begin with.
If your unhappy customers comprise more than 10 percent of your customer base, you need to look beyond the individual to the design or performance issue behind their dissatisfaction. Provide prompt attention to the core cause of your troubles and the complaints will resolve themselves. As long as your complainers are in the lower five to 10 percent range, however, you can rest assured that they represent only the fringe of your customer base. While they deserve due attention, don’t neglect your loyal shoppers to try and appease the doggedly dissatisfied.
Myth Two: The Agent is the Experience
It’s a common misconception that the agent controls the customer experience. There’s no question that soft skills like diffusing anger and building rapport are important, but these typically elevate calls from good to great. They can’t pull satisfaction levels up out of the gutter. Instead of focusing on soft skills, your time is better spent addressing major performance failures, like lack of knowledge, or deeper issues such as slow systems and inefficient processes. These have a bigger overall impact on your customer service outcomes.
Instead of focusing on the individual agents, turn your attention to the training processes that give them their knowledge base, and thus their confidence and problem-solving abilities. Are they appropriately trained in your products and services, or is there something missing from their bank of expertise? Examine your response times and look at the systems behind them. Are documents arriving in the prescribed amount of time? Do agents quote realistic timeframes for repair and resolution? Make sure all your systems and processes are operating up to snuff, so customers are receiving the results that agents promise them.
Myth Three: Solving the Problem Results in Customer Satisfaction
There’s a prevailing belief that customers whose issues are resolved have higher satisfaction rates. While this seems like a sound assumption, resolution may not rank as high as you initially assume. While the happiest customers do have their problem resolved in their first call, less than 70 percent of customers who fall in the next satisfaction ranking achieved closure in one call. Other factors play a major role in satisfaction as well, such as listening skills and agent knowledge.
Coach your customer service agents in all the areas that contribute to customer satisfaction, not only problem resolution. Make sure your agents understand that there are many other factors that come into play, including empathy, understanding, and a confident, comprehensive knowledge base. Customers can hang up from a call feeling good about their experience even if the problem persists, simply because the agent they spoke with was sympathetic and offered an understandable base of background information into what the issue is.
Just as customers can achieve high satisfaction without a resolution, so too can they experience low satisfaction even when their issue is ultimately taken care of. If it takes hours of waiting and numerous time-consuming attempts to finally reach resolution, customers will hang up feeling frustrated about their wasted time. This is where you need to reassess your processes. Could your agents improve satisfaction by referring callers to someone more efficient at resolving their issue, such as a brick-and-mortar store or service provider? Think beyond resolution and examine all the factors that impact satisfaction.
Myth Four: More Time Creates a Better Experience
Your time is valuable, so it’s easy to assume that you’re offering more value to problems that you spend more time on. However, customers are typically looking for the opposite. They want fast, efficient solutions. The key to good customer service is finding the sweet spot where you’re investing adequate time in the problem without lingering unnecessarily or using inefficient techniques.
Long-tail calls can represent anywhere from a quarter to nearly a third of all time spent with callers. You could easily end up in a situation where a small proportion of your calls are taking up a significant chunk of your day, despite the fact that the added time adds little to overall satisfaction.
Develop a set metric for how long each type of call should take. While certain types of issues will naturally require more time than others, you can still benchmark the appropriate investment in time and effort for common concerns such as resolving billing questions or scheduling a service call. Encourage your customer service providers to remain inside these boundaries.
Myth Five: A Satisfied Customer is a Loyal Customer
Many managers equate a satisfied customer with a loyal one, but this isn’t always the case. Customers in the second satisfaction tier are typically more passive. Don’t settle for satisfied rankings, equating them with strong brand loyalty. It’s worth the time and effort to elevate your agents’ rankings to the top tier. Simplify your processes and help your top agents build soft skills to move from a quietly content customer to one who will truly sing your praises.
Push your customer service agents to not only meet expectations, but exceed them. Pay close attention to top tier customers who achieve the highest levels of satisfaction, and identify the tipping point where service goes from good to great. Perhaps it’s when they discover an alternate billing plan or find out about a deal they didn’t specifically call to inquire about. Strive to hit that sweet spot with as many calls as possible, going a step beyond problem resolution to achieve lasting customer loyalty.
Focusing on the right areas in your customer service systems will help you achieve the top-tier brand loyalty that you’re really after. Don’t settle for mediocre satisfaction ratings or a simple lack of irate outbursts. You want to achieve a high, sustainable number of customers in the very top tier of satisfaction. Abolish old-school approaches and “time-tested” techniques when the numbers don’t support their effectiveness. Keep your focus on the right metrics to get your customer satisfaction results where you really want them.