Hype or Reality? Importance of Customer Service as a Key Differentiator
Whether you sell dresses, tires or professional services, you are likely facing much stiffer competition than before, from companies that offer fairly similar products or services. In fact, it’s rare for a company to sell something that is so unique that customers are willing to ignore their desire for good customer service.
To highlight an example of a company that understands the importance of customer service as a real business differentiator, let’s look at Lenox Corporation. Lenox makes fine china and porcelain products for the table and home, which are sold both through wholesale channels as well as directly to consumers at over 20 Lenox retail stores as well as online.
Because of the nature of Lenox’s business, both sales and call volumes are dramatically higher during the holiday season than at other times of the year. On Black Friday of 2017, though, the company realized that customer call abandonment had spiked—likely due to longer-than-normal wait times. Within 30 minutes of realizing that the abandonment rate had increased, Lenox was able to update their IVR to apologize for the wait time, offer callers the option for a call-back, and give callers who had been waiting, a coupon code they could use at the online store.
Lenox made this discovery because they have robust contact center analytics that give real-time notification of trouble areas so issues can be immediately rectified. Improved customer experience, both during and outside of the holiday rush, has resulted in an increase in upsells by contact center agents, and higher customer satisfaction in general.
On Cyber Monday, Lenox was able to maintain an excellent customer experience in spite of the high call and chat volumes, ensuring all customers had a good experience.
How to Improve Your Customer Experience
Even if you know customer service is important, not everyone has a clear roadmap for improvement. Here’s how to improve your customers’ experience.
Step 1: Understand Where You Are
You can’t start making improvements until you fully evaluate how happy your customers are with your service at the moment. In all likelihood, there will be some areas where your company excels—but other areas where customers are quite unhappy. Three ways you can assess where you are today:
- Get your Net Promoter Score
- Evaluate post-engagement surveys and find your average rating
- Analyze your customer journeys
Once you’ve discovered where you are, you can start using technology to help you identify customer pain points—and start solving them.
Step 2: Use Technology to Find Ways to Improve
Communications technologies can help you first, identify key areas for improvement and second, help you create a roadmap for better customer experience. Here are some of the ways technology can lead the way:
- Speech analytics will quickly identify common pain points for customers and pinpoint where you can make customer experience improvements that will dramatically increase satisfaction (and could even save money by reducing call volume).
- Use customer experience analytics to quickly identify problems such as excessive hold times or transfers, and then drill down to analyze specific customer journeys.
- Use tools like Expert Connect to give agents immediate access to available experts, helping to drive first-call resolution, and Quality Management to coach agents and improve their service skills.
Step 3: Get Executive Buy-In
Creating a great customer experience requires more than just optimizing your contact center operations—if you want great customer service, everyone at the company, from CEO to contact center agent, has to prioritize the delivery of exemplary customer service.
- Evaluate how current technologies can support your business goals. For example, a cloud-based unified communications and contact center solution on a single platform can dramatically reduce your costs while helping you significantly improve customer service.
- Ensure that the executive team is on-board to support your initiatives—they understand the value of CX; help them see where you’re not up to par today, and how you can get there. Make sure the ROI and time to value of your proposed solutions is a part of that discussion.
- Once you have a plan in place and buy-in from all the relevant stakeholders, it’s a matter of following through and using technology to evaluate the effectiveness of your CX strategies. Be sure to gather baseline metrics before you implement your new solutions, so you have proof points demonstrating the success of your investments. It will help you gain trust from your executive team as you propose next steps.
Customer Service Resources & Best Practices:
Feel like you need some more examples of how companies excel at customer experience? Here are some resources to check out as you create a strategy for your company:
- Delivering Happiness: A path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Zappo CEO Tony Hsieh
- Would You Do That to Your Mother?: The “Make Mom Proud” Standard for How to Treat Your Customers by Jeanne Bliss
- Attend industry conferences and webinars to learn how your peers and competitors are improving customer service. 8x8 will be attending these in 2019:
Want to learn more about how the right technology can help you improve customer satisfaction? Register for 8x8’s webinar with Intralinks to learn how they reached a 92% customer satisfaction rating.