Customer service today is vital in our service-based economy. It is no coincidence that industry leaders such as Zappos, Apple, and Amazon are leaders in customer service.
A superior experience generates return customers and diehard loyalty. In this age of social media, great customers spread the word like wildfire, attracting hordes of new customers on a limited advertising budget. Combined with the fact that 86% of consumers will pay more for a better experience, it’s clear why these organizations continue to achieve record profits.
When we consider customer experience, we have to think about those ideologies, those messages, and those actions that create a happy experience for the individual in a product or service-based organization. To have a terrific customer experience, the organization must demonstrate that the purpose of its business is the customer. Everything begins, and everything ends with the customer in mind.
The Value of Customer Service
No company can grow if its customer bucket is leaky, and loyalty helps eliminate this outflow. Indeed, loyal customers can raise the water level in the bucket: Customers who are truly loyal tend to buy more over time, as their incomes grow, or they devote a larger share of their wallets to a company they feel good about. And loyal customers talk up a company to their friends, family, and colleagues.
Such a recommendation is one of the best indicators of loyalty because of the customer’s sacrifice, if you will, in making the recommendation. Econsultancy data shows that around 70% of marketers say it costs less to retain a customer than it does to acquire a new one. With all the marketing dollars you spend roping in new buyers, that’s not hard to believe. If you want to increase your return on investment, keep your current customers happy.
The Customer Journey
If keeping the customer happy is paramount then understanding what makes them happy is more important. To do this requires the use and understanding of the Customer Journey. A customer journey is nothing more than understanding how the customer enters your buy cycle, what maintains their existence, when they remain how many referrals do they provide and how often do they return, and how long does it take to exit.
Research in the field emphasizes the use of customer service by understanding the customer journey. The customer journey is about touchpoints. These touchpoints include but are not limited to vendors, suppliers, customers, and employees. Customer loyalty must be embodied within every touchpoint of the value chain.
When each touchpoint includes loyalty there exists, productivity, efficiency, retention, and referrals. Exemplars of customer service include MBNA, The Ritz, Nordstroms, Zappos, Amazon, and numerous other Fortune 500 companies. The list provides illustrates that these same companies save hundreds of millions per annum on marketing expenses because their customers conduct marketing for these companies. Customers of these organizations are so satisfied with the user experience that the customers become avatars – saving each respective company millions on advertising expenses and employee retention. MBNA as an example as a one percent attrition rate. When productivity is high, there is efficiency and a loyal fan base. As Peter Drucker the management guru once stated – The purpose of business is the customer!
To help you understand how to begin the mapping process, a template is included:
- Set objectives. Is there a problem you’re trying to solve? What appears to have altered that requires change or research?
- Create personas. Perhaps a demographic survey has not to be conducted. A company was in business for 20 years before it had a buyer persona. Without one they were missing targets for over 20 years.
- List touchpoints. This is an area not to be missed. There needs to be a large whiteboard or software that “physically” maps every area of the organization that a customer touches. Where are the gaps? For example, we all become frustrated over voice-activated phone systems but they were installed without a mystery shop. Ensure you understand every area.
- Identify your brand and how your customer engages with it.
- As you map look for gaps. Either fill them in or bring in additional resources.
- Use CRM and other tools to test theories and algorithms, leave little to chance.
- Create Change as needed.
- Make change urgent, do not sit around conducted studies and waiting for markets and customers to alter you must alter.
- Benchmark for success. One of the best is the use of the net-promoter score. Key performance indicators are your best methods to ensure change and mitigation of old ways.
The simplest thing about customer service is that if you treat customers with professionalism and empathy they will continually return. They will tell others. Customer service is the key to your marketing and profitability success factors. It lowers attrition in organization, and it heightens productivity. You need to constantly evaluate how you are doing. The more you can systematize things the easier it will be to ensure you are providing great service each and every time. It is simply proper and sophisticated human interaction. Understand the customer and their journey and you become competitor proof.
About the Author
Drew Stevens is an international strategic turnaround specialist, author, and keynote speaker. Click here to reach out to Drew.