Have you ever raised a support request as a B2B user?
– I have.
You send an email and then you wait, and you wait, and you wait. Eventually someone will come back to you with some initial questions – but it could be a long time, and half the time the person on the other side is just trying to figure out where to send you.
While you’re waiting, your systems are down, your leadership is breathing down your neck asking you WTF is going on and you can’t give them an answer – which makes you look stupid.
People tend to remember customer service experiences either because they were really good, or really terrible. But either way, they’re remembering an experience.
I was once waiting for a train which got cancelled on the first day of a new job. Safe to say I wasn’t happy. But said train company found a way to transform my disruptive, negative experience into something positive. The next day when I went to get that train, I got a voucher for a free coffee – which also gave me the details to reclaim my fare.
This has stuck in my mind as a great customer experience, transforming something otherwise negative into a positive. That coffee made my day! I’ll remember that experience and the company who delivered it – and it could even influence my future purchases.
Another set of experiences that stick in my mind come from my days working in and managing contact centres for large organisations.
Contact centres are often just seen as a massive operational expense, a cost centre, because executives often don’t understand the value customer experience and quality service can drive. I’ve watched calls queue for hours due to understaffing, only to be picked up and told no one is available. I’ve seen businesses try to implement technology to reduce staffing requirements – which is why you often get stuck speaking to a chatbot that doesn’t know what it’s doing. (Don’t get me started on chatbots!)
You get through to someone eventually, who isn’t empowered to help you with your enquiry, so you go through to someone else – the cycle continues.
I’m sure a lot of you will have had similar experiences with customer service. It can be extremely frustrating and destroy your perception of a brand. It can also feel like you’re trapped in a contract with a business that doesn’t care about you.
Then we have the middle ground. The average, it’s OK, it gets the job done – but it doesn’t evoke any emotion and it doesn’t become an experience, just a transactional communication.
The positive experiences we remember create a strong affinity between us and companies. Hitting the right notes with customer service makes all the difference, especially in a market where your competitors’ products are probably fairly similar to yours.
Customer Experience (CX) is the new frontier. Two-thirds of companies are competing in customer experience and service and CX leaders are significantly outperforming laggards in terms of business value. And nine out of ten customers say that customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand.
And that in a nutshell is what Customer Experience is all about – what your customers think and feel about your brand and how that translates into business results. Customer Service and Support is how you bring it to life.
It seems simple, and it is – as an idea. The more complicated thing is making sure that everyone in the company stays true to it. If you can do that, you’re on to a winner. Look out for a few more blogs coming soon on how we manage CX at Tyk