Customer experience versus service
Understanding customer behaviour and creating services around client needs will lead to sustainable positive experiences.
The world of customer experience is changing - not only substantiated by research and behaviour, but the playing field is being renegotiated on a fundamental level.
Loyalty does not mean what it used to. Customers have grown up in a world where their parents are either divorced or where marriage was never an option, so the understanding of loyalty is changing.
Customers will change brands even if they are happy, just based on the value they place on change and the possibly of a better experience or product. The need for change is outstripping the focus on decision-making, and the reasons why people are making various brand choices.
In this world where experience is everything and metrics are changing, let me start with some fundamentals and then move forward.
When considering the world of customer care, or making sure the clients are being serviced to a level where they are satisfied and their expectations have been met, it must be realised that some key issues are being ignored.
If customers have a bad user experience, they will change the product or service they are using. The experience needs to be measured, predicted and planned for. However, the one thing that cannot be planned for is the human factor.
Having the client experience the same level of satisfaction is hard to achieve when the complexity increases - the repeatable experience becomes harder to deliver and then the unique and tailored service becomes even harder to aim towards.
Customers expect companies to have all the systems already in place to service them.
What happens if we don't want to repeat the same experience and meet the same expectation every time? Are we creating loyal communities of people around our product and service?
In a social world, people don't just want to share their brand experience... they want others to recognise them as experts and then offer this help based on social recognition.
What are you offering existing clients? Are you not simply up-selling them on products rather than adding some value, offering alternatives, and showing you actually care about their business?
It can't just be assumed that more products and services mean clients are happy. If a consumer model is being forced, the client has no option but to choose an alternative.
Customers don't just want service providers to react to negative situations; they need them to respond quickly when they raise concerns, based on the responsiveness of the media type they are communicating with. This then also creates an understanding of what needs to be communicated.
As such, service providers communicate not just based on content, but based on the channel of communication.
If the client is contacting a company on a messenger app, have a strategy that responds to them on that channel, with files and application forms designed for the app. This will give the impression the company was expecting communication on this channel and it has strategies in place to respond effectively.
It also needs to be quantified how much non-compliance costs the company. It is important that staff understand the degree to which each action affects the whole process, and lack of performance impacts the relationship with the customer.
The culture of service and delivery of value needs to be so entrenched in the performance metrics of the staff members that their performance is evaluated in the correct way.
Companies need to ensure the focus on customer experience has real commercial values and figures attached. This creates a business case for service that actually measures the impact of good service on the bottom line.
It must be understood that people contribute more to the experience than the process. The process is assumed; customers expect companies to have all the systems already in place to service them. They want to deal with friendly people wanting to serve them.
With this personal touch comes the need for authentic service. Everyone knows what it feels like to be greeted by a fake smile and patronised by a person trying to look like they care about a service request.
Understanding customer behaviour and then creating a service around their needs will be the next frontier in creating experiences that last. Companies should be aware if the consumers are power users on social media; let them know they have been noticed on social media and then give them the rewards they demand for being brand-loyal.
Lastly, create a culture of professional behaviour with dignity. The old saying: 'staff treat customers the way they are being treated by leaders' still holds true.
Are you creating a culture where a positive work ethic and value for the individual is being communicated?
Kevin Hall is national sales manager at people and enterprise-focused ICT company Elingo. Elingo is a specialist technology services business focused on multimedia contact centres and IP telephony, combined with business process automation (BPA). Hall is responsible for C-level engagement and is equipped with expertise and product knowledge to help clients identify their call centre and BPA needs, and then match these with the most effective solution. From his base in Johannesburg, Gauteng, Hall deals with decision-makers directly. He covers the entire spectrum of the Elingo solution, with specific attention to its value proposition, which is to offer the flexibility of cloud, on-premises or a hybrid solution, delivering business IP telephony and unified communications. Hall has experience in several key areas of technology development and application, including: outbound sales, debt collections, strategic analysis, call centre optimisation, cloud structural enhancement to business process, effective call centre management, call centres, process management, WFM, gamification and customer experience. Prior to his role at Elingo, Hall held senior positions at 1Stream, Intuate Group and RealConnect.