Your customer wants to talk to you. Most customers understand that reaching customer service has grown far more complicated in the Internet age than it was before. All of us have experienced the frustration inherent in reaching “voice jail” – the eternal loop of pressing buttons, providing information, or becoming involved in a fruitless merry-go-round with an AI voice system. It’s time put the service back in customer service, and let your customers know that you actually care.
Put a Face on It
When it comes to customer satisfaction, some industries fare better than others. Yet customer satisfaction is one of the greatest determining factors in whether you retain or lose future business. Reasons for dissatisfaction can vary from customer to customer, but the greatest determining factor in whether that customer returns in the future is how the problem is handled when brought to your attention. This is not to say that, as the old cliché would have it, the customer is always right. There are times when the customer is wrong, or the customer simply does not find any solution presented to be satisfactory. Dealing as realistically as possible with customer service will help not only the customer but your customer service staff to be engaged and active in seeking solutions that are mutually satisfactory.
One of the drawbacks of telephonic customer service is that, according to Gigaom research, 65 percent of human communication is nonverbal. This means that visual cues and not just tone of voice play a greater part in communicating than most people realize. By making use of telephonic customer service exclusively, you are using only 35 percent of your interpersonal communication skill set. Very often, a smile, or a sympathetic expression, or a shake of the head conveys more than any amount of words spoken into a microphone receiver in a call center. How to tap in to that 65 percent and make it a customer service asset can be incredibly simple. Use of videoconferencing services such as Blue Jeans for customer service can put that 65 percent back in play.
Customer Service Facts and Figures
When it comes to reasons that customers drop out of your sphere of influence, some very valid complaints rise to the surface. According to a study done by Microsoft on the subject of multichannel customer service, some of the numbers will surprise you. While men and women access customer service resources equally, it is customers between the ages of 18 and 49 that comprise 74 percent of customer service contacts. In terms of channels of access, 43 percent prefer to use the telephone, 22 percent prefer email, and 18 percent prefer live chat; videoconferencing was not an explicit choice.
And while the telephone is still the principal channel for accessing customer service, 50 percent said they are only willing to wait on hold for between one and five minutes. After that, only 25 percent are willing to hold between five and 10 minutes. The computer is identified as the start of their quest for customer service, with 50 percent saying that they initiate the attempt to contact customer service and resolve their problem using their computer, and 84 percent saying that they have used a search engine in an attempt to solve a customer service problem. And the hardest number that you will read is that 65 percent of customers have stopped using a company’s service or a brand of products because of a poor customer service experience. The factors determining what constitutes a poor customer service experience are as follows:
- 47 percent said that they contacted customer service multiple times for the same problem.
- 43 percent said that they were passed from agent to agent.
- 37 percent said that their service representative was rude.
- 33 percent said that their customer service representative was unknowledgeable, or that their self-serve customer service experience did not answer their questions.
- 24 percent said equally that being told they would need to take another action to resolve the issue, and lack of follow-up by customer service representatives played a part in their decision.
While not all customer service reps are suited to the job, by training and engaging your customer service reps you will reduce turnover, increase productivity, and enhance job satisfaction. In a Gallup poll, 71 percent of workers reported being not engaged or actively disengaged in their workplace. Increasing your engagement with your front-line customer service representatives will yield highly positive returns in terms of customer satisfaction.
- While not every customer service call will require a video conference in order to reach a satisfactory conclusion, a certain percentage of problems will escalate to your tier 2 level representatives. When that happens, frustration levels are often at a peak, and the situation will need to be de-escalated before it can be addressed. Asking the customer if they would like a face-to-face meeting with a tier 2 representative or a supervisor can elicit a positive response. Determining if the customer has the capability for video conference is as easy as having them download a cloud-based app, should your provider have one. It is critical to determine before you make a commitment that your video conference provider support a wide range of desktop and mobile operating systems, plus a variety of browsers and connection methods.