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Voice of the Customer

Aspect Customer Care Personas is a five-segment personification of companies’ approach to, and execution of, customer service. Based on an analysis of practices as identified by customer service decision makers in the US, the personas study aims to help companies uncover where they fall in their customer care strategy and the opportunities for improvement.

 “The foundation of an effective and exceptional customer engagement strategy can no longer be built solely on traditional customer service methods – particularly when today’s consumers are in more control and have a louder voice than ever before,” said Joe Gagnon, SVP and General Manager Cloud Solutions at Aspect Software. “As customer service becomes the new marketing, most companies need help focusing on specific improvement areas in their customer service approach. This in-depth survey has shown that there are many different approaches to customer care and finding a balance between consumer and company interests is not only needed, it is much easier said than done. Our findings identify gaps in service delivery or deficiencies in consumer-facing technology that can help companies improve the value they provide to their own customers.” 

 Through the research of companies across vertical segments, five different company customer service personas were identified based on their investment, approach and attitudes towards delivering customer service:

 

The Traditionalist – Big on customer touch, short on technology

The Honcho – Heavy on the executive leadership, light on strategic effectiveness

The Selfie – Tonnes of tech, missing on metrics

The Casualist – Best intentions, worst in just about everything else

The Stickler – All policy, no apologies

While there is no one perfect customer service persona, disconnectedness troubles companies in every segment. Technology is disconnected from agent engagement, metrics are disconnected from what matters to the consumer, and procedures are disconnected from delivering exceptional service.

Part of the answer to solving this disconnectedness is evaluating the appropriation of technology investment. More than half of companies (53 percent) are currently and actively using their company's customer service technology investment to replace the customer service representative while nearly half (47 percent) believe that by 2020, the human interaction element of the customer service representative will be replaced by technology all together. And while this investment may save companies money in the short term, it may cost them dearly in the long run. Consumer demand for more self-service options is on the rise but companies who provide customer service on their terms and for their interests alone risk becoming laggards while organisations that address technology investment from the consumer’s perspective put themselves in position for market leadership.

 

In an additional Aspect-commissioned study of consumers, 73 percent of respondents said they wished companies offered more ways to solve customer service issues on their own yet the same amount (75 percent) say they believe companies’ motive for using self-service is to prevent them from talking to a customer service representative. It’s no wonder that 96 per cent of them said that they were more likely to do business with a company that has strong customer service and nearly three quarters (72 per cent) stopped doing business with a company because of a bad customer service experience. And the problem has only gotten worse. Nearly half (45 per cent) say they would rather eat a piece of last year’s fruitcake than deal with customer service, an eight per cent increase from this time last year.

 

“While companies work on improving their engagement with these hard-to-please consumers, brands need to know how they are perceived by their customers in order to assist them in understanding what it takes to provide exceptional customer care,” continued Gagnon. “It’s important therefore that companies know not only what their internal persona is but what the potential business impact is of that approach so they can identify improvement opportunities. More importantly, brands must find the right balance between serving the needs of their specific customer base and the needs of their own employees and investors to deliver exceptional service as well as exceptional shareholder returns in this ever-changing landscape.”

 

Personas overview

 

The Traditionalist A Traditionalist company believes in customer service in the most conventional sense: eager to please, always putting their customers first and continually striving to build lasting customer relationships.

 

No persona is more focused on demonstrating customer appreciation

However, only 5 per cent of these companies strongly agree that they embrace newer technologies ahead of their customers’ demand to use them – this could include things like web chat or mobile apps

And less than half (46 per cent) agree that their company encourages customers to use self-service channels to resolve their issues before contacting a customer service representative, compared to 61 per cent of the total

 

The Honcho Leadership permeates throughout the Honcho’s approach to customer service, ranging from strategy and implementation to performance and measurement.

100 per cent of the companies in this segment say leadership is involved in customer service strategy

93 per cent of the companies in the Honcho segment agree that their company’s customer service technology investment has a strong correlation to improved consumer interaction

However, the Honcho is the least likely of all the segments to report that it maintains a social media presence, or offers cross-channel capabilities for problem resolution

 

The Selfie The Selfie fully embraces technology and is ahead of the curve in customer service innovation and functionality. However, this segment suffers from an amplified sense of self, believing it is doing everything right, from prioritising customer service to involving leadership.

An overwhelming majority (97 per cent) of those in this segment agree that their company is nimble when it comes to changing technology and applications to improve the customer service experience, 41 percentage points higher than respondents overall

But, nearly all Selfies (95 per cent) agree that their company is doing a better job at customer care than customers would say they are doing

Sadly, 94 per cent of Selfie companies agree that over the past few years, the customer service measures at their company have remained relatively unchanged

 

The Casualist Companies here are casual in everything about their approach to customer service; too casual in fact. Companies in this segment have extremely limited leadership, limited customer metrics and little innovative technology, which is why they see their customer service performance worsening.

The Casualist says its approach to customer service is flexible, persuasive, timely, compassionate, accurate, decisive, patient and able to handle surprises

However, nobody in this segment strongly agrees that customer service measures capture their customers’ true level of satisfaction

Just 20 per cent of Casualist companies say their company provides customer service staff with the resources and tools needed to provide a superior customer experience, 50 points lower than the total

 

The Stickler The Stickler is easily characteried by one word: protocol. Sticklers have a strong desire for creating and following rules and procedures and execute a formalised approach to customer service.

 

The Stickler is more likely to use technology to engage with customers than most other customer service persona segments

Stickler companies are the least likely of all segments to say it appreciates customers, always exceeds customer expectations or empowers representatives to make customers happy

Companies in this segment consider the ability to explain corporate policy and POV as one of the most applicable benefits of customer service

For more information on the Customer Care Personas and to view the full study, please visit http://www.aspect.com/customer-service-personas/

 

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