Metricising customer service for successful CX
The world of customer retention and loyalty is a challenging, nuanced placed. Jargon and abbreviations litter the arena creating confusion as to what an organisation is actually seeking to achieve when embarking on a customer satisfaction or experience strategy.
Words like Customer Service and Customer Experience are used interchangeably to describe any action or programme implemented by an organisation in an endeavour to increase customer satisfaction. While these concepts certainly live in the same world and work together to move towards achieving customer loyalty, it is essential to understand the difference before embarking on a strategy of customer satisfaction.
CX (CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE)
The phrase Customer Experience has gained significant traction and is often described as the new battleground of brands wanting to solidify their value in the hearts, minds and pockets of consumers. Lou Carbone first introduced the concept in a seminal piece in the early 1990s where he put forward the idea that far beyond product satisfaction or brand presence, a customer uses the sum of all interactions with an organisation to form a lasting impression, which would ultimately result in increased purchases, or not. Over the last three decades the idea of customer experience has grown and evolved to include every aspect of an organisation, from product development to retail design, brand, communication and service. It is, therefore, an all-encompassing journey between the organisation and customer creating emotional, psychological and physical connections during the entire customer lifecycle.
CS (CUSTOMER SERVICE)
Customer Service is arguably the most crucial aspect of Customer Experience, with more than 70% of customers who have abandoned a brand pinpointing a poor Customer Service experience as the reason. Customer Service is the support offered by an organisation before, during and post a purchasing decision, and can often be associated directly with a specific department. If we understand Customer Experience as the sum of all the touchpoints between an organisation and customer, a starting point for improving experience must then surely be the improvement of interactions within customer service departments. A surly sales assistant can scupper an exceptional product sale, the greatest service offering ruined with poor telephonic assistance or query resolution and so on.
The association between service and satisfaction is not a new concept, with organisations spending substantial effort and time in building training programmes for front-line employees, incentivising success and seeking mechanisms to delight customers at points of interaction. So why do so many still struggle with this fundamental of customer experience?
QUANTITIVE AND QUALITATIVE METRICS MATTER FOR CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
The answer more often than not lies within the metrics used to determine whether a service engagement has been successful. Traditionally, qualitative measures such as up-selling, call duration, email response time and the number of calls resolved are used as KPI’s within customer service departments. These metrics certainly measure productivity, but internal productivity doesn’t always translate into customer satisfaction. More and more organisations understand that experience within customer service has more to do with factors such as the ease, tone and manner of interaction, which are intrinsically harder to measure, as they are far more subjective and unique to each client.
Measuring and improving customer service, therefore, requires post interaction feedback with the ability to translate more emotive, subjective constructs into hard data that can be aggregated and turned into valuable insights. If an organisation understands its key customer service points, these points can continually be assessed and fine-tuned, creating a fundamental base on which a broader customer experience strategy can be built.
Technology advancements have created the ability to gather touch-point data easily, in a variety of ways, from post-call voice ratings to in-depth customer sentiment research. The value of such data collection not only lies in its ability to provide post-mortem feedback on customer experience but with predictive analytics, can, over time, build a picture of what each customer segment (or even individual customer) expects prior to them even engaging with a brand.
Within customer service, this combination of foresight and hindsight has the power to enable organisations to not only rapidly correct service failures but build intuitive service touch-points. This powerful combination of intuitiveness and rapid self-correction within service departments create customer experiences that most certainly win loyalty, repeat purchases and brand champions.