Time to put customer service on the map
We’re currently celebrating National Customer Service Week (NCSW). Organised in the UK by the Institute of Customer Service, it aims to raise awareness of customer service and the vital role it plays in the economy. Similar events are taking place around the globe.
While it has been going for a few years, NCSW has never felt more relevant and necessary. Customer service has moved centre stage for businesses and consumers alike, becoming critical to success. Excel at it and you will retain customers and increase sales – fail to deliver and you will lose out to more savvy competitors. Forrester believes that a ten point improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion of additional sales.
So as the spotlight is now on customer service, what areas do companies need to look at if they are going to meet customer expectations? I’d narrow it down to three:
1 Customer service is everyone’s job
From the delivery driver to the CEO, everyone in your organisation has a part to play in the customer experience. And in today’s always-on world, you need to deliver a consistent experience 24x7. Poor service, whether in a shop or over the phone, can easily be recorded and shared through social media within seconds. While NCSW celebrates frontline agents, companies need to instil a customer service culture throughout their organisation.
2 Customers will continue to demand more
Today’s consumers know what they want – and are happy to change provider if they don’t get it. The amount of time they’ll wait for information is constantly shrinking, and once expectations have been set on one channel they are applied to others. For example, knowing they can get instant answers through web chat or self-service mean that consumers expect the same speed (and consistency) in dealing with email and phone enquiries.
3 The pace of change is constantly increasing
Ten years ago Facebook didn’t exist. The first Apple iPad was launched in 2010. The speed at which these innovations have been adopted is astonishing. It took 19 years for PCs to reach half of American homes – but just 7 years for DVD and 6 years for MP3 players to hit the same milestone. We can’t predict the future channels and devices that consumers will use to connect and engage with brands, but we need to be flexible and listen if we are to provide the service that they demand. Technology has a role to play, but has to be adaptable if it is going to cope with a future that is impossible to predict.
The companies that succeed will be those that understand these three concepts and ensure that customer service is a priority – from the boardroom down. National Customer Service Week is the perfect opportunity for organisations to review their strategy and performance, and take steps to innovate now and in the future.