Customer Loyalty is More Than Just Customer Service

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Harvard Business Review published an article titled, “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers,” which opened a new debate on the efficacy of customer service. The main idea behind the research is that customer service is important, but only up to a point. You can’t buy customer loyalty with customer service alone.

How often do you return to a business just because it went above and beyond? The idea that companies must do everything they can to appease their customers is not as true as it might sound. Your product has to fulfill the customer’s needs in a way that there’s little need to turn to customer service in the first place. 

For example, Cox is an excellent demonstration of how businesses with strong products tend to have more customer loyalty than others with underwhelming products. Then, Cox customer service is there to help in case you need assistance.

Simply the Process

The term “exceed their expectations” is fairly common in the customer service industry, but it often puts undue pressure on the customer service team. There’s only so much they can do and anticipate when it comes to handling customer queries. Moreover, this statement doesn’t help make things clear for the customer support team. Alternatively, if they’re asked to make the process simple and easy, they’ll treat customers with the sole objective of making things easier.

For perspective, the HBR study noted that around 89% of the customer service leads admitted that they try to exceed customer expectations. However, around 84% of the customers reported that they didn’t feel like their expectations were exceeded.

HBR noted that most of the calls arise because of a lack of an apparent solution. If a business were to revamp every step in the customer journey to make things easier for the customer, the number of calls would reduce, allowing them to channelize their resources to other areas.

Don’t Try Too Hard

Have you ever experienced a place of business where they’re being too nice and overly friendly? If yes, did you like it? There’s a high chance that most people would be put off by the excessive effort. It doesn’t have to be this clingy. Your customer service stays on the back end and the customer finds them when they need assistance. 

Trying too hard also gives the impression that they’re not being transparent, which is the last thing a business would want to project onto its customers. Customer loyalty revolves around the product and the brand.

Take Proactive Measures

Another major grievance faced by customers is the need for repeated calls. The repeated calls are mostly about an issue downstream from where the previous issue arose. It’s logical to assume that the customer will need assistance if the process requires multiple steps. Some processes like cable TV or internet installation require guidance at multiple points, and the customer shouldn’t have to make multiple calls to complete the process.

Most companies tend to focus more on first-contact-resolution (FCR) scores, which don’t take into account repeated calls. HBR noted that around 22% of those first callers returned shortly after their first call, which could just as easily have been avoided if the customer service representative had included a few points in the first call.

For example, Fidelity has a section on their website called suggested next steps, which guides the users on what to expect and how to proceed. This reduced the calls by 5% and increased transactions coming from that page by 25%.

The interesting thing is, most companies can predict the customer’s needs to some extent. But they often ignore that because they’re too busy handling the large volume of calls. All they need is to gather data and analyze it to make more data-informed decisions. This also increases customer satisfaction.

Customer Service is the Cherry on Top

Ideally, customer service should be a facilitation interface that addresses minor issues and doesn’t disrupt the flow of the business. Every step from the point the customer landed on your website to their purchase decision to the product usage/installation steps should be so effortless that there’s little need to turn to customer service.

Another important thing is that customer service should never lose the human element, and be able to connect to the emotional aspect of the interaction. For example, not all people will trust a piece of information right away. Others might also feel that the customer service representative is not being entirely forthcoming and hiding behind company policy. Similarly, some people might prefer to skip the pleasantries and get down to business right away.

A UK-based mortgage company trained their customer service representatives to discern the clues and figure out the customer’s personality type to better address their needs. Then, their responses would be tailored based on their assessment of the customer.

Conclusion

This goes to show that a good customer experience is much more than customer service. Sure, it is an important metric to retain your customers, but you shouldn’t be focusing all your energy on this alone. Build a strong product, simplify the process, address the related queries beforehand, and focus on building a long-term client base. These are some of the key things that we can learn from the most successful businesses. 

Sources

https://hbr.org/2010/07/stop-trying-to-delight-your-customers

https://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Web-Exclusives/Viewpoints/The-Great-CX-Debate-Should-Customer-Experiences-Be-Effortless-or-Exceptional-149485.aspx

 

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