You have a great product that solves a problem for your customer. That’s great! So how does customer experience enhance the use of that product? This is a very important question to ask yourself, because the truth is, a product without service is just that - a product.
In a world overflowing with different choices and competitive markets, businesses can no longer solely rely on the unique selling proposition of their product or service. Whether you know it or not, there are plenty of other companies offering products very similar to yours. In order to stand out, you and your team need to create an unmatched customer experience.
Providing a personalized and unique experience to your customers is far more important than produce utility. In order to differentiate your company from the competition, it is vital that you provide an excellent purchasing experience that begins with building relationships. Traditional phone calls and email have been used for decades, but with everyone and their mother using these communication channels, the opportunity to provide a unique customer experience is very slim-to-none.
In an effort to stand out, companies are turning to other communication channels such as online chatbots. With the massive growth of innovation in artificial intelligence, they are all the rave these days. This automation has enabled a business to deliver faster service and increase response rates, but as a result, the human touch present in other communication channels has also been lost. And that human touch can make all the difference.
The Truth About Customer Experience
Most people would think that competition is often stemmed from who has the lowest prices, but the data tells a different story. In a study performed by Gartner, they found that when it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price. Before running off and trying to out-price your competition, businesses are better off reassessing and working on customer experience to start differentiating themselves from their competitors.
Ultimately, listening to customer feedback is the only way for both the customer and the business to align. By learning through customer behavior and listening to needs and desires, companies can discover how to adapt and change so that they can better serve their customers. When doing so, customers will take notice and they will feel appreciated, which is equally as important in and of itself. In fact, according to New Voice Media, the feeling of being unappreciated is the #1 reason why customers stray away from certain companies.
There is, of course, two sides to a coin, and the odds can swing drastically in your favor when you make the necessary changes to create a unique customer experience. In the same study by New Voice Media, 86% of those studied said if they made an emotional connection with the customer service agent, they would give that company their business again. In addition to that, according to the Temkin Group, 77% of customers are likely to recommend a business to a friend if they have a positive customer service experience.
After having a positive experience with a company, 44% of customers would tell a friend about the company. This backs up the old saying that people buy from people they like. It’s a universal truth. Since service is not a priority for most businesses these days, good service will stand out when it’s received.
Customers show overwhelming appreciate for great service, and they back up that appreciation with their wallets. It is extremely beneficial for you and your team to heavily invest time and money into customer service. The smallest changes can make the biggest differences. Work to consistently give better service, and the results will speak for themselves.
The Cost of Bad Customer Service
Research shows that more than two-thirds of a company’s competitive edge in their market is based on the experience they deliver to their customers. The good news is that when and if done correctly, your company will experience a lot of long-term success. On the other hand, the bad news is that if you don’t prioritize your customer service, your business will experience some preventable backlash from unpleased customers. According to the 2017 American Express Customer Service Barometer, more than half of Americans have canceled a planned purchase or transaction due to poor service. That's a huge potential revenue lost due to a bad customer experience.
The truth is, not only can companies not grow without good customer relations, they can’t even compete in their market. And there isn’t a lot of room for error, especially in crowded markets. According to the same American Express study, 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service. New Voice Media says, 51% of customers won’t even consider doing business with the same company after one negative experience. The pressure of a great “first impression” is more crucial than ever before. As customer experience becomes increasingly automated in innovated ways to meet consumer demand, the feeling of disconnection due partially to the lack of human touch also grows.
Any business that deals with customers are in the “people” business, whether they acknowledge it or not. Even losing just a single customer can be detrimental for a company. It is imperative that when complaints occur, a business remains responsive and takes the opportunity to deliver a positive customer experience even in the midst of conflict.
Customer Service is a Top Priority
When you and your team are dedicated to providing an exceptional customer experience, you aren’t only rewarded with social proof - it’s also financially beneficial. As American Express points out in their 2017 Customer Service Barometer, 7 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they have spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service. To put this plainly, if you dedicate enough time and energy into your service model, you won’t have to engage in price wars with your competition.
Based on a study done by Oracle, 86% of buyers will pay more money for a better brand experience, yet only 1% of those consumers feel that businesses consistently meet their expectations. This means that if you’re able to streamline an excellent customer service process, you’ll stand out from the crowd even more.
Retention is another crucial aspect related to customer service. It’s simple logic that it’s a lot easier to keep an existing customer than it is to gain a new customer. Not only is it easier, but it’s also fiscally imperative. Based on a study from the Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer is 5 to 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one.
Though gaining new customers is important, businesses are still prioritizing too much of their resources on customer acquisition. If they put a fraction of these assets into customer retention, their profits and LTV's have a potential to soar significantly. According to Bain & Company, a 5% retention rate boost can increase profits anywhere from 25-95%. A few small changes to your customer service process can drastically bring more money your way both short and long-term.
In order for your business to be a leader in your market, it’s imperative to view increasing your customer service as a sales opportunity and not an unnecessary cost. Creating a positive and memorable customer experience is a surefire way for a company to gain recurring business and differentiate themselves from their competition.
Customer Service Channels
There are multiple ways for a business to implement their customer service process. Though, with the various options, email still remains the most commonly used digital customer service channel. In a study done by Forrester, in the last year, at least 54% of customers have utilized email to contact customer service teams. Regardless of its popularity, with compliance policies becoming stricter by the day, is email poised to continue as the top contender?
That might not be the case. With consumers’ attention spans getting shorter, waiting on an email reply is not the preferred contact method by most consumers anymore. In a survey conducted by Toister Solutions, it was found that customers expect an email response in under the hour.
Due to this, it’s not surprising that live chat customer service channels are receiving significantly higher satisfaction ratings. After all, how could the speed and conversational nature not be appealing? Simply put, email is falling behind. Not only do consumers lack the patience, but artificial intelligence and smarter spam filters are making it increasingly more difficult to communicate effectively with customers.
So if consumers like speed and a conversational interaction, why are phone calls not preferred? Well, think about it. When was the last time you tried calling a customer service line and weren’t put on hold or weren’t transferred to multiple reps on different lines? The last time I tried to get on the phone with a company to resolve an issue I was redirected four times before I received a potential solution. It was a nightmare.
Although at first, it may seem simpler to pick up the phone, according to consumers, the top reason they don't is that they are not able to talk to the correct person right away. After all, as Forrester points out, the majority of adults (66%) feel that valuing their time is the most important aspect of the customer service model. Do phone call operators generally respect the customer’s time? Probably not. To their defense, it's easier to talk to fewer people and resolve less problems during a shift. Businesses are facing a lose-lose situation when it comes to choosing between phone and email customer service channels.
Of course, these issues become even more complex when discussing payment disputes or complaints. When dealing with financial customer service issues, consumers are more likely to seek out a face-to-face interaction (23%) or a real person on the phone (40%). But like we discussed, these types of interactions generally lead to dissatisfaction due to their long nature and complexity to reach a helpful person. Businesses need to find a way to bridge the gap between efficiency and personalization.
The customer service landscape is changing and consumer expectations are becoming increasingly difficult to meet. With so many channel options available, it seems the standards are still not being met. For businesses to capitalize on their customer experience model, speed and responsiveness will need to be at the forefront of their priorities.
The Power of Personal Communication
It’s no secret that there is a clear disconnection between companies and customers in regard to customer service expectations. This is an epidemic that spreads across industries and affects companies of all sizes. According to Harris Interactive, 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent. It’s believed that if your live service (chat, text, phone, email, etc.) takes longer than two minutes to send a response, that’s too long. This leads to immediate frustration and an unhappy customers.
With all of this to consider, response time is not the only important factor. When companies’ customer service lacks personal touch, that brings its own consequences. A friendly, empathetic, and knowledgeable service representative is received drastically more positively than the opposite. In the same report from the 2017 American Express Customer Service Barometer, it was found that 68% of customers said that a pleasant representative was key to having a positive service experience, and 62% said that a representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was another big factor. Simply answering the phone will not be good enough. A great customer service team differentiates itself by being efficient, listening to the customer’s problem and offering a viable solution.
There’s no substitute for helpful, human service. It's not only in customer service, but it also holds true in sales. In fact, salespeople that add a human touch to their interactions with prospects close more deals than their peers. If you and your company begin going out of your way to be available and authentic, the results might just surprise you. Implementing simple changes today can put you miles ahead of your competition tomorrow.
The ROI of Great Service
As I mentioned prior, improving your service isn’t only going to produce social proof and validation, more importantly, your company will benefit fiscally. In a study done by the Temkin Group, it was found that 73% of companies with an “above average” customer experience perform better financially than their competitors. Even with this information to support the importance of great customer service, other companies are still not following suit. As it turns out 72% of businesses claim to make customer service improvement a priority, yet 52% of leaders with customer service roles are expecting to keep or lose their budgets in the following year. Companies are simply talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Even VIP customer service has recently become a buzzword that gets thrown around with no backing or support of a truly unique customer experience.
If you don’t believe great service is a game changer, then you might want to take a second look at the data. According to Dimension Data, 86% of organizations that regularly work to improve customer service reported an increase in revenue last year. To make matters even better, those same companies also reported a 20% increase in employee engagement. Giving your team the tools necessary to create an outstanding customer experience can make all the difference. It takes time, effort and commitment, but it’s no secret that it is all well worth it.
The bottom line is that companies who invest in their service model are coming out on top. Businesses have the answers and have seen the data, yet they continue to drag their feet on catching up with the times. Patience has become limited and loyalty is at an all time high. Make the necessary adjustments, please your customers, and keep their business for a long time.
The Answer To Great Service
This information might be overwhelming to digest. In fact, you may want to achieve and grow the perfect customer service team, but you don’t know where to start. That’s okay, because we are here to help with just that! As mentioned, timeliness and personal touch are the two key facts to making customers happy. Unfortunately, the outdated communication channels of phone, email, and even social media aren’t cutting it anymore. They have become so increasingly crowded in the last decade, they are not seen as personal anymore. We have found that the most efficient way to check off all these boxes is through text messaging. Yes, it’s been around a long time, but its extremely underutilized. I'll also go as far to argue that text messaging is the new email.
Think about it. How great would it be to pick up your cell and text a company as easy as you do a family or friend? This quick-access allows you to reach your customers easily so that you can provide solutions to their problems even faster.
Why are most businesses not texting their customers when 78% of consumers wish they could? Now there's an easy way businesses can implement text messaging in their customer service departments to increase engagement and customer satisfaction.
At ReplyBuy, we enable businesses to harness the power of text messaging to build stronger relationships and create better customer experiences. Want to learn more about how we can help? Let us start building a stronger relationship today.
Are you ready to make customer experience a top priority in your business? Then, let us start a more meaningful conversation now.