By Ivan Moore, COO, Jolt Consulting Group, www.joltconsultinggroup.com
To truly impact customer experience, view your service delivery from the customer vantage point.
Enriching customer experience (CX) must be at the forefront of a service organization’s strategy, which must be designed to deliver tangible results. In fact, companies that focus on customer service make 60 percent higher profits than their competitors.
Every customer experience matters — from a onetime interaction to a lengthy relationship — and every experience, either positive or negative, produces a drastically different outcome, which affects customer loyalty, new and repeat business, and financial results.
Regardless of whether you are a business-to-business or business-to-consumer entity, customers have added power because they’re communicating in real time via social media and online reviews (e.g., Twitter, Yelp, BBB). Customers can easily research company reviews prior to any purchases, and 88 percent of consumers are influenced by online reviews before engaging with a business. Positive experiences result in referrals and drive additional purchases. Bad experiences have the inverse impact.
Negative experiences are often shared with larger groups of people, retained for lengthier periods of time, and generally have longer-lasting effects than positive experiences. Some demographics are more permanently soured by a bad experience, especially women, high-income households, Generation Xers, and professionals engaging with B2B interactions; up to 91 percent of these (former) customers will never willingly do business with the company again after a negative experience.
CX is the cumulative result of each customer touch point, meaning the impact of service on CX must be evaluated through the complete service delivery chain — from initial customer contact, to remote support, to on-site technician service, and follow-up. To improve CX, service organizations must develop best-in-class processes, create new and unique ways of interacting with customers, and invest in technology to optimize these touch points.
Critical Service Areas Impacting CX
Call Center Operations: Forward-thinking service companies offer customers omni-channel methods of communication, intelligently route customer inquiries, leverage analytics and knowledge bases to quickly resolve issues, and facilitate customer collaboration. Call center agents are empowered to understand customer needs and resolve them in real time to provide a positive CX.
Appointment Booking: A service request is typically initiated because of a customer crisis and must be streamlined as much as possible. Relevant information should be factored into the appointment (e.g., technician preference, installed asset data), and the less information the customer must provide, the better their CX will be. Repeating information they provided via an IVR (interactive voice response), or failing to prepopulate the service software system with the customer record based upon the customer phone number can cause friction and customer frustration. In addition, customers expect tighter appointment windows and are no longer satisfied with morning or afternoon time slots.
Appointment Reminders and Technician Notifications: Customers should receive appointment reminders including time, location, and reason for service. Additionally, when a technician is en route to a customer, leveraging technology to provide real-time notifications — think Uber — is becoming a standard customer expectation and method to positively impact CX.
Proactive and Predictive Maintenance: IoT holds enormous potential for improving CX. A service organization that is alerted that equipment needs to be serviced before something critical occurs prevents a customer requesting a service call after the asset fails. This prevents downtime, which is critical to the customer and increases its loyalty. With IoT and connected devices, service organizations benefit from proactive and predictive maintenance to improve CX.
Improving the service delivery chain and enriching CX must be at the forefront of a service organization’s company strategy and can deliver higher profits than competitors. Best-in-class organizations develop stellar business processes, interact uniquely with customers, and invest in technology to enable customer touch points. Organizations should review t heir service processes from the customer vantage point as this perspective often exposes friction and potential frustration points that are obscured by the day-to-day chaos of running a service organization.