Never before has there been more pressure on customer service—the competition is fierce to acquire and retain customers, and poor customer service can be a surefire way to see them go. Platitude creators say that all it takes to keep customers is a better attitude on the front line; in other words, an approach aimed at “customer loyalty ” to gain “a customer for life.” While I believe in these sayings and support these goals, the reality is that most of the front-line workers have their hands tied and are being squeezed in an ever-closing vice.
Customer lifestyles are constantly evolving, as are their expectations of the quality of service they receive. Your customers’ needs aren’t stagnant, so why should your customer service approach stay the same? Here are three main reasons why common business approaches to customer service aren’t cutting it.
The Pressure Cooker: Increasing Customer Demands
Customers expect great service and they do not want to deal with functional specialties of your organization. They have specific goals that may run counter to an organization’s goals to close a call in a limited time frame, and they expect you to know them, their goals, and their history. Furthermore, they want you to understand their mood and respond accordingly.
The bottom line is that your customers want convenience, and they want a pleasing experience because the pressure cooker they live in—i.e., our fast-paced, digital world—is difficult enough. According to customer needs, businesses must understand multiple expected outcomes or customers will pick up and go elsewhere. Loyalty is a lost concept these days.
20/20 Vision: The Real Customer Journey
The customer’s journey is usually larger or different than what your organization and systems are built to serve. Just look toward the mortgage and account opening journeys for proof that better journeys make bigger impacts.
For example, while applying for a mortgage can be easier and more effective, the real journey is finding a new home. The end-to-end journey here is far more inclusive than getting a mortgage or opening accounts. If an organization adamantly works on understanding complete customer journeys and goals, then their business will experience increased credibility and customer loyalty.
Retiring the Systems That Hold You Back
Systems have emerged from functional perspectives and usually contain weak interfaces for customer service. While newly patched interfaces can help, systems that are built around the customer’s journey—and are not necessarily one-size-fits-all—would go far in helping customers and service representatives alike. Better systems have the ability to take some of the pressure and pain away from both sides.
Digital transformation will give organizations a new opportunity to do just that: It will make sure all constituents (customers, employees, partners, vendors, and stakeholders) are well represented in the redesign.
Customer loyalty is earned by understanding the consumer’s specific journey and the goals they have in mind. This means that your organization is usually only one or two steps in their overall journey and set of goals. Expanding the ways in which your organization can contribute to the overall journey, and fixing arcane customer service platforms, will likely be effective solutions. Organizations need to fix their system issues and increase their journey coverage to match customer goals and desires.