There are no questions that customer service is an integral component of any business’s success. You might have an awesome product and great pricing but if your customer’s experience is not good, then you are losing the ultimate battle to win their hearts.
What is Bad Customer Service?
Bad customer service is when the customer has an unpleasant experience with your brand. This can happen at any touch point throughout their journey. These touch points are the moments of truth (MoT) for the business and opportunities to win them over. Whereas, if things go for a toss here, then that leaves a bad taste.
Impact of Bad Customer Service
54% of customers have higher expectations for customer service today compared to previous years. This percentage jumps to 66% for consumers aged from 18 to 34 years old (Microsoft). So, if as a business you will not prioritize customer service experience, be ready to face some or all of the following consequences.
1. Bad Word of Mouth
If you are not careful about monitoring and improving your customer service experience, then you are opening yourself to a whole new level of bad brand reputation. Always remember – customers love to talk about their experiences and more so, when they are bad.
With social media becoming such a big phenomenon, dissemination of information has become face and easy. A single tweet or Facebook post or a video can go viral in no time. Some examples of the same can be seen above.
2. Lesser Conversions
You call the customer service department and are made to hold the line while a message plays saying “Please hold the line as all our executives are busy at the moment”. What is the first thought that comes to your mind? I assume you get frustrated and this is aggravated further when you have to abandon the call or you never hear back from the executives. All of these bad experiences align with the notorious reputation that people have of the customer care department. The more frequent these poor experiences are, the lesser the chances of a prospect converting into a customer.
3. Loss of Business & Customer Attrition
Studies have shown that it is costlier to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones. And the fact of the matter is that a great product is only so much without awesome customer service. According to a report, around the globe, 96% of consumers say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand. Frequently bad customer support experience makes the customers unsure of your brand and hence, make them look for better alternatives.
4. Reduced Employee Morale
Poor customer service not only has an external consequences but can lead to your best employees feeling burdened by handling frustrated and angry customers. There can be a sense of free riding within the team i.e. good customer support executives picking the slack for the not so good agents. If this continues for a long time, employee morale goes down and so does the service levels. At the same time, if the organization ties the agents’ hands and force them to follow a rigid structure, without much freedom, there can be a sense of helplessness among them.
Repairing the Damage - Ways to Improve Customer Service
Today customers have plenty of alternatives – the competition is very high. Be it a product or a service, there will be someone else in the consideration set. So, being customer-centric and having an edge over the competitors is the only way to attract and retain your customers.
Let us look at some of the ways to ensure pleasurable and memorable customer service.
A) Don’t Make Customers Wait or Repeat Themselves
A call center software will help you effectively manage your customer service process. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) combined with intelligent routing rules reduces the customer wait time by quickly connecting them to the right agent/ department. And in case of high call volume, allow your customers to hold their queue position even after disconnecting the call.
At the same time, call center integration with a CRM gives your agents all the information about the customer’s journey thereby improving the quality of conversation. For instance, if the agent can see that the customer had called earlier about a faulty product and sent an email for the same with more details, the agent is in a much better position to resolve the query satisfactorily, without asking the customer to repeat the details again and again.
B) Value Customer Feedback
Recording and analyzing the customer feedback gives you insights into what your customers think about your brand and what are their expectations. Provide them with various portals and channels to share their experiences.
Use this feedback constructively rather than being defensive and getting into a social media war. Doing that will only aggravate the situation and will further hamper your brand’s reputation.
C) Omnichannel Support
Do not limit yourself to a few communication channels – be on all the channels that your relevant audience prefers. For urgent and important issues, you need to have the provision of call, whereas for any lengthy or procedural documents or manuals, email is the best platform. Since we are living in the ‘messaging’ age where customers like to text, having chat support further simplifies their customer experience.
D) Empower your Agents
Your employees are your best brand ambassadors – leverage them to the best of your abilities to create a pleasurable customer experience. One of the most famous examples of this is the Ritz Carlton’s $2000 Rule. Ritz empowers its employees to spend up to $2,000 to solve customer problems without having to involve the manager. These employees can spend up to $2,000 per incident, to rescue a guest experience.
Training your agents and giving them the right tools and technology is another way to help them help your customers. For example, using an omnichannel helpdesk software, the agent can get a 360-degree view of the customer – regardless of the channel via which the customer has contacted. These context-driven conversations resolves issues faster and leave a positive impression on the customer.
E) Celebrate Your Wins
Lastly, just like you own up to your mistakes, you need to celebrate the wins as well. Let your prospects and customers know about these successes. Social media has been the front-runner in this aspect. Similarly, you can spread the word by doing other marketing activities like email campaigns, case studies, newsletters, etc. All of these activities when done consistently will significantly improve your brand recall and help in increasing your customer base.