Deliver on your customer promises, or else…
Customer confidence in companies can be fragile; one mistake and consumers are ready to move their business elsewhere (and complain about it on social media). Often problems occur because companies don’t deliver on what they say they will do. In other words, they fail to keep their promises.
Customer service expert and blogger, Shep Hyken, articulated in a recent post that promises to customers can apply to many areas. Do contact centre agents or account managers call back when they say they will? Are products delivered in good condition by the expected date? Are support calls answered within the time period specified in the service level agreement?
All of these may seem like basic things to get right. But the American Management Association and Institute for Corporate Productivity surveyed more than 1,300 business leaders and found that 33% of companies admit they don’t keep promises made to customers.
This is reflected in our own Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study which reveals that many companies aren’t meeting customer expectations when it comes to customer service. Just 16% of companies responded to emails within the timeframe they themselves set – breaking the promise they’d made to customers. And despite 76% of the companies in the study having a presence on Twitter, only 39% actually answered tweets sent to their Twitter handle.
So while companies often aspire to deliver world class customer experience, many could do well to make sure they are doing the basics right by delivering on their promises. This can start by just meeting the customer’s expectations. However, it’s worth remembering that customers will have different expectations dependent on the brand. For example, the service they expect from a fast food chain will not be the same as from an upmarket gourmet restaurant. But in each case they want these expectations – and any promises made – to be kept.
Going beyond the basics If you really want to impress your customers and win their long term loyalty, then take things further; instead of just meeting their expectations, try to go beyond them. Aim to provide service which is better than average, and is superior to other companies in your sector. So how do you keep meeting customers’ expectations and even exceed them? Here are five considerations to bear in mind:
1. Remove roadblocks Think like a customer. Test your systems and processes regularly to find out where the pain points are. Look at how you can you redesign your processes to ensure they meet or surpass customer requirements. Customer expectations are continually growing, so repeat tests to ensure you are always improving.
2. Analyse customer queries What questions are being asked most frequently – and does this vary across different service delivery channels? Is the right information being provided direct to customers and agents answering queries? Use analytics to explore what customers are asking, and then steps to ensure that any gaps are plugged.
3. Include the Silent Sufferers What about the people who you don’t hear from? Those that try to buy from you but give up and go elsewhere? Expand your listening posts to cover all interactions. With an advanced linguistics engine you can pick out negative tonality at any stage in the customer journey and not miss out on this vital segment.
4. Under promise and over deliver Don’t make promises you know you can’t keep but at the same time be realistic. In the Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience study we came across one travel company that promised to respond to emails within 28 days. This is way too long in today’s hypercompetitive markets.
5. Benchmark Look at your competitors and further afield at other companies that are seen as leaders in customer service. Make sure you are delivering more than the competition and remember customers expect great service from every company – people like Amazon have raised the bar for interactions with any organisation.
Customers are increasingly fickle these days. The internet and social media means people are ever more aware when companies fail to deliver on their promises – and can easily research and switch to alternative suppliers. If you want your business to thrive it is therefore essential to make sure it delivers on customer expectations – and even surpasses them.