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How Tech Support Calls Affect Cash Flow

It used to be said that you only have one chance to make a first impression. Today there are so many avenues available for customers to interact with your brand that every impression made has a multiplier effect that can impact downstream revenues and retention. For telecoms and electronics companies in the consumer products markets, the most lasting impression may come from the customer experience delivered by your call center.

Granted that your products are well made, taking your eye off the customer experience can contribute dramatically to a company’s challenges. The importance of the customer experience cannot be overstated. As cases in point, both Sprint and T-Mobile posted significant customer service declines in 2011. Each company has its own unique set of circumstances, but the common thread, as reported in the NCSS 2012 survey on mobile phones, is that they both lost focus on the customer experience in their call centers.

What companies often fail to understand is that customer service isn’t something you can solve and then move on to the next item on your checklist. Service gains must be earned and then maintained with constant vigilance. One bad experience with a call center agent can lower satisfaction faster than a good experience can lift it back up.

 

Take, for example, the results from this TARP – CEA survey with customers of consumer electronics manufacturers:

Of customers who say they’re very satisfied with their call for customer service, 68% say they will definitely buy again, and 78% say they would recommend the brand. But, drop down to the somewhat satisfied and neutral box where you see that only 19% will definitely buy again. That’s a 49 point drop in stated intention for additional purchases. And that can be a killer for cash flow, as well as customer retention.

 

Your company puts a lot of research and development into your products for feature design, usability, and functional quality. The same intensity should be applied to call center experience design. According to the Temkin Group Q4 2011 CX Survey, 74% think that customer experience design is critical or very important to their company’s success, but only 35% say they are good or excellent at it.

 

It’s often the small things that can have the biggest impact on customer experience. Clarity and simplicity are inherent to a good experience. Combined with the three factors below you can take the next steps to improving the impression you leave with your customers—and by extension, your cash flow:

 

1. Focus on the customer, not minimizing the cost. The customer’s investment in your product requires that you provide your best efforts at supporting their needs. If you’re focused on the customer, they can tell. For example, an agent who rushes through an explanation without making sure that the customer understands the information may as well as come right out and say “Buckle up. I only have 60 seconds allotted to this call, so here it comes!”

 

2. Current interactions must lead to future opportunities. As you have seen in the research presented above, the impression made during a support call can have a major impact on purchase intent, advocacy, and loyalty. When designing your service experiences, don’t look at the metrics used to measure performance as one-offs. The metrics must work together to achieve goals for customer lifecycle extension and development. If the metrics are only focused on the call—rather than the relationship—this outcome is more difficult to achieve.

 

3. Leverage the current transaction to make an offer. Instead of instructing your call center agents to wrap a call with the standard “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” question, consider which situations can provide opportune moments to make a relevant and timely offer. A good support experience is satisfying to the customer, but a well-placed offer can often boost that satisfaction even higher.

When designing the support and service experience in the call center, consumers care about the ease in reaching an agent, minimal repetitive steps, and call resolution. They also care about how the experience makes them feel and how simple it is to solve their issue. If you want to keep purchase intention high, making the connection between calls and cash flow should provide a compelling reason to focus on improving the customer’s experience.