Monday, October 31, 2016

How Proactive Customer Experience Can Fix Scary Customer Service

Gather around for a scary story that transcends time and space. Scarily enough, these events are based on a true story…

Once, not long ago, there was a woman who needed flight information and she needed it immediately (she must be a millennial, they’re so impatient!). She picked up her iPhone and began to dial…..

Suddenly there was a voice on the other line! [insert suspense sound effect here]

Automated Customer Service Agent: Thanks for calling [Airline That Shall Remain Nameless]. How can I help you? You can say: Flight status, Reservations, Book a flight, Rewards Member, or More Options

Woman: “Reservations”

Agent: I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Please try again; you can say: Flight status, Reservations, Book a flight, Rewards Member, or More Options

Woman: “Reservations”

Agent: I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Let’s try something different. Please spell out the option you want.

Woman: What the? Okay ….. R-E-S-E-R-V…

Agent: I’m sorry I didn’t quite catch that. You can say: Flight status, Reservations…

<< As her patience running thin, she responds once more. >>

Woman: RESERVATIONS, please for the love of Pete, RESERVATIONS!

Agent: Did you say Rewards Member? Please use the dialpad to type in your Rewards Member Account Number. Then press the #pound key.

CLICK.

Let’s face it. Bad customer service can spook even the most loyal of consumers. While many product companies get caught up in perfecting their customer service (which is a worthy cause, but a big undertaking), they make the crucial error of forgetting about the big picture: customer experience. Focusing on the customer’s experience with your product, and essentially your brand, will keep you far from the product graveyard and help you proactively avoid those customer service faux pas. Let’s take a look at the facts:

Customer Service vs. Customer Experience

Customer Service is the essential support that comes with the territory of purchasing from a company; the standard. There is often a negative connotation with “customer service” because when a consumer has reached this point, it’s an indication that something went wrong and requires a solution. Customer service is a response.

Customer Experience is not a single transaction between consumer and support agent. It is transparency and open communication as well as projections for the future life-cycle of your product and its owner; an all-inclusive strategic alignment between the customer’s engagement expectations, brand promise and the company culture behind the brand. Customer Experience is a calculated journey.

So how can Customer Experience influence Customer Service?

According to Forbes there are 4 reasons for why focusing on customer experience is vital to success:

  1. Customers equate brands with experiences
  2. More demanding than ever
  3. Bad experiences spread like wildfire
  4. Angry customers can damage brand name

Couple that with The Global CX Wakeup Call Report from 2015, where SDL found that 45% of customers were left unsatisfied after requesting customer support; specifically related to disappointing customer service regarding poor response times, poorly trained agents, received inaccurate information and/or the solution was not resolved, and Customer Experience has a pretty bold case of importance.

Transitioning from a service-guided mindset to an experience-guided mindset could make all the difference for a brand. So, how can you invest in your customer’s’ experience?

  • Analyze your customer’s journey with your product to anticipate any pain points –  at what point can you be proactive in providing information?
  • Consolidate product information and have it at the ready in the format that they’ll likely want to digest it (print, mobile, online, in person, etc.)
  • Communicate where they can find the product information before your customers even ask for it.

Sensing a motif here? The customer experience is all about being proactive, not reactive. So instead of [Airline that Shall Remain Nameless] providing reactive customer service when I needed to grab my flight information, they could have provided a proactive customer experience (maybe an email or mobile notification with my flight information) that would have let me avoid the customer service measures altogether.