In the age of the customer, businesses don’t decide how customer-centric they are – customers do, says Daniel Bailey. The need to provide good customer service is a given for any business today.
In fact, recent Forrester data shows that customer service technology was one of the top five most focused on investments that companies made in 2015. Why? Because good customer service boosts long-term loyalty. Conversely, poor customer service leads to increased operational costs, customer defection and revenue loss.
However, in order for customer service to truly increase profit, it must be seamless across all communication channels. This means streamlining a customer service strategy to create ‘one face of the brand’ across all departments and silos of the business, to ultimately benefit the business’ bottom line.
The power of the customer voice
Gone are the days when customer service was seen as an unnecessary burden; it is now considered a highly valuable asset to any organisation, cementing the relationship between brand and consumer. With the recent explosion of public communication channels, including Twitter and Facebook, organisations’ reputations are on the line. The combination of one bad customer experience and the power of word of mouth could spell a recipe for disaster, in terms of damaging brand reputation for the long-term.
To put things into perspective, according to a recent report over half of UK customers (59 per cent) cite customer service as highly important in their choice of loyalty to a brand or organisation. Customer service is a big deal considering that 63 per cent of consumers will stop doing business with a company altogether due to a poor customer experience. What is more – 42 per cent agree that getting their issue resolved quickly is the most important aspect of a satisfying customer experience. It’s therefore no surprise that the monotonous process of having to speak to multiple agents and then explaining the dilemma again and again leaves 23 per cent of customers frustrated.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to frustrate consumers nowadays. Time is precious to everyone and customers expect problems to be resolved in a single interaction or businesses run the risk of unnecessary escalation.
Big data: the new competitive advantage
Delivering good customer service is difficult. As customer interactions have become more complex across multiple channels, customer service agents and managers are under increasing pressure to successfully identify and prioritise conversations to achieve optimal customer satisfaction.
For businesses to stay in control of the customer dialogue, it’s about having the right measurement tools to truly navigate the customer journey and decipher the individual needs of their target market. For this to happen, organisations need to adopt a data-driven approach to customer service and engagement.
Big data – it’s the new currency that businesses and consumers are highly dependent on. Considering that the amount of digital data created is doubling every two years, businesses have vast amounts of consumer information at their fingertips. Using intelligent analytics, organisations can use data-driven insights to bring a sixth sense to increasingly complex customer conversations. Better positioned to anticipate a customer’s level of frustration before negative interactions occur, businesses can build stronger long-term relationships with their customer base.
The smart use of big data is fast-becoming a crucial tool for companies across industry sectors to set themselves apart from their competitors. In essence, knowledge is power and leveraging data empowers businesses to unearth valuable customer insights to make better decisions and minimise risks in the long-term.
As new communication channels continue to develop, along with shifting consumer demands, providing a positive and consistent customer service will ultimately help secure a company’s bottom line and keep new and existing customers coming back for more.
1 Forrester’s ‘What Drives A Profitable Customer Experience’ report, 2014
2 Forrester’s ‘Websites That Don’t Support Customers Waste Millions’ report, 2012
3 Forrester’s ‘Global Business Technographics Software Survey’, 2015
4 Microsoft Global State of Multichannel Customer Service report 2015
5 IDC big data report
Daniel Bailey is Director of Northern Europe, Zendesk