It was exciting to connect with customers and learn how they provide top-notch service at the Salesforce Essentials for Service Excellence event in New York City.
The event opened with Michael Nash from Salesforce sharing that service has become a key differentiator in purchase decisions, often exceeding price and features in purchase decisions. Our customers’ expectations are for personalized, smarter and faster customer service experience. Smart companies are building service directly into their products to differentiate their brands from others.
Compare the response of Tesla Motor, which broadcasted a software change to increase the ride height of their vehicles after several vehicle fires after drivers hit road debris, to your last recall experience. Other manufactures send out a notification letter, require a dealer appointment, then you have to take your car in and wait or catch another ride to work and back. When all is said and done, there is a lot of hassle to fix a problem that the manufacturer caused.
Knowing the different experiences between Tesla and other manufacturers, why should we care about meeting customer service expectations? It all comes down to customer loyalty, which drives repurchase, increase spend and positive word of mouth. Lara Ponomareff shared insights on where loyalty comes from, using The Effortless Experience as a reference.
Intuition says that delighting customers by exceeding service expectation should be a great way to garner loyalty. However, a CEB study of over 125,000 customers and 100 organizations points to a different result. Rather than dramatically increasing loyalty, exceeding expectations produced only a marginal increase in loyalty. Pause for a moment and let that sink in. If delighting customers doesn’t make them loyal, what can we do?
There is an unseen benefit in these findings. We are not good at exceeding expectations, as customers report delightful experiences occur only 16% of the time. In addition, going beyond expectations typically increases costs by 10-20%. From my experience, the expectations that you exceed today have a way of becoming the basic expectation of tomorrow.
Rather than focus on increasing loyalty, let us look at the opposite – decreasing disloyalty. As customers seeking service are already in a negative state, i.e. something is broken and they want it fixed quickly, there is four times greater chance of increasing disloyalty than increasing loyalty through service.
Think about your own customer service experiences. What are the items that make you upset? For me having to repeat information, especially after I have already entered it and the general hassle factor are tops on my list. Others have cited the need to switch between channels (online, chat, phone), transferring between agents, scripted or robotic service and the ever-popular hiding beyond policies and procedures. Put together, it all equals additional effort on your customers.
Will investing in an effortless experience provide payback in customer loyalty? Laura cited that 96% of customers that experience high effort are more disloyal, but only 9% that have a low effort experience. The even better news is only a third of perceived effort is what a customer must do to get support. The rest of their perceived effort drives from how they feel about the experience, which includes what the customer service representative said and how they said it. This provides an opportunity to improve service by looking at support through a customer effort lens.
First, guiding customers to the right support channel and more choices is not always better. For example, we know there are certain types of cases that should not be addressed via live chat. If we are not guiding customers to avoid live chat for these issues, we just caused a channel switch and increased frustration.
Next, once we have driven customers to the right channels, including self-service, our customer support representatives are going to get the more complex issues that are not black and white. Give the front line control to do what is right and exercise judgment. They should focus on a customer’s support experience and how he or she presents information to the customer. The goal is to be a trusted guide to resolution of the issue. This will require taking a hard look at the people, processes and management in place and the ability to think differently.
Now, if you are not ready to take a leap and embrace an effortless experience, start by seeing how your customers feel about their effort involved in customer service. Survey customers with a simple question such as “Did we make it easy to handle your issue?” with a range of responses from strongly disagree, disagree, disagree somewhat, neither disagree nor agree, agree somewhat, agree and strongly agree. I would love to know what you find, but be warned – the results may surprise you.