By Jan Carroza
When 75% of its business comes from repeat customers, it’s no wonder that Zappos is a great role model for customer service.
Channel choices for customers to reach out are exploding and customers are taking advantage of them to post public reviews and ask questions. Expectations for a new standard in response are elevated by both merchant and consumer. Bob Dylan’s lyrics may talk about change with more poetry, but it’s definitely coming for the customer experience.
The consumer wants answers that are:
Fast Accurate Consistent Complete
In all the channels where they want to be (social, website, call center)
On top of that, 77% expect incentives from online engagement, according to eMarketer.
Merchants also have a vested interest in great customer service to:
- Increase the # of sales
- Increase the average sale amount
- Reduce demands on resources (staff, IT, etc.)
- Improve reputation
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Give feedback to improve/add products/services
How’s It Working for You?
If 9 examples of household brands handling customer service in a Fortune survey, while not statistical, reflect in a small way how merchants are doing, there is a lot of room for improvement.
It’s interesting that these 9 tests were Twitter vs. website live chat and call center scenarios. Most often, the call center, the oldest of the forms, was the most responsive channel. However, the response times and answer completeness could generally use improvement.
Steps to take towards improvement
1) Track and report interactions and share with other departments: sales, product development, operations and finance.
2) Empower customer service staff with a choice of tools: discounts, coupons, special offers and decision-making authority, no matter how limited, to grant instant gratification.
Interesting Reaction: Chief Customer Officer
A delightful direction companies have taken in response to marketplace pressures in an economic downturn, customers in open social media spaces and competition is to develop a new C-Suite executive role: the Chief Customer Officer. Forrester Research cites the “desire to accelerate growth and response to rapid growth” as two more reasons for this move.
A quote from a Boeing exec sums up current corporate culture in a nutshell. “We knew we needed to change our culture to better serve the one reason we exist – our customers. Our operations departments were focused on products, our finance teams on collecting payments, and our sales and business development focused on short term revenue goals.”
No one was minding the customer.
It’s laudatory when companies make the commitment to a senior position and give it the punch of authority.
Clearly a lot of forces are bearing down on these efforts to improve customer service. The transparency of the social media movement is bearing a lot of fruit, but it’s a process that will continue to get more interesting. I’ll enjoy watching the progress.