Good cust service

Should our customers really be paying more for better service?

New research finds that media, telecoms and technology brands are still failing to make a meaningful connection with their customers. Is it time for consumers to change the game by paying for a more dedicated service? asks Nancy Collins in an exclusive article for Engage Business Media

Poor customer service is a lot more that an irritant. Left unchecked, it’s a huge loss-maker to businesses. Incorrect data, poorly timed customer outreach or a difficult phone manner are the kinds of thing that businesses can overlook. But your customers do not forget these experiences, and that’s what can be fatal.

To underline the importance that customers now put on good service, The State of Customer Service 2015 report produced by Xerox finds that over half (54%) of consumers would pay more money for better customer care from their preferred brands.

But brands should not look at this as a new means to generate revenue. Rather, it’s a stark reminder that customer service is to be taken ever more seriously.

Customer Dissatisfaction Runs Deep

Xerox’s report analysed data from 6,000 consumers in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the United States, finding that the importance consumers placed on a quality customer care experience is consistently high regardless of industry sector, country or age group.

A high percentage of those aged over 71 (70%) said that they were prepared to pay more to ease the support process when dealing with brands. This trend extends even to those you might not expect it – two-fifths (40%) of Generation Z (those aged 16-20) would still part with, more of, their money to gain a more reliable customer service.

What underlies this finding is a dissatisfaction with what is currently on offer. Good customer service is a basic expectation, not an added privilege and organisations must make the investments necessary to ensure that the levels are up to standard.

What this entails is delivering the personalised service so many consumers crave while ensuring their data will be handled carefully. As the Xerox report shows, this is an ongoing conundrum.

Balancing Personalisation with Privacy

As a general rule, this desire for relevant and timely communications surpasses the need for data privacy. Some customers are certainly still wary of personalisation due to privacy concerns, but Xerox’s report shows only around a third (31%) do not want to see personalisation in their communications.

Increasingly, customers are recognising the necessary trade off that is needed to receive the best service, provided data is held responsibly.

Paying with Data

If your customers are willing to pay for better service, it’s fair to say that your customer care model is broken. Rather than trying to patch up or ignore this fact, the opportunity is there to differentiate and evolve traditional ways of dealing with customers, creating an experience they will truly value.

Next-generation tools such as analytics, automation and artificial intelligence make it possible to utilise customer data to the great benefit of customers. In fact, it could spell the end of customer service complaints altogether. With enough data gathered about customer preferences, brands will be able to anticipate the customer’s needs through their online or mobile behaviours, meaning when the call does come, the agent who has anticipated the query can serve the necessary information right away.

Customers should not be expected to part with more cash to achieve a service they can rely on. But it does appear that most would be willing to pay for the best service in the form of their personal data. This, to my mind, is the real opportunity to explore.

About the Xerox Study:

The State of Customer Service 2015 study was conducted in June 2015 on behalf of Xerox and surveyed 6,000 consumers in the United States (2,000), the U.K. (1,000), Germany (1,000), France (1,000) and the Netherlands (1,000).  The study is available in three editions: Technology Edition, Communications Edition and Media Edition. The Xerox reports on the study can be downloaded here:
https://www.xerox.co.uk/en-gb/services/customer-care/customer-service-today

Nancy Collins is group president of Xerox’s Financial Services, Communications & Media business group

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