Customer expectations have changed rapidly in the past few years, thanks mostly to changes in current technology such as mobile devices, smartphones and near-constant interconnectedness. Companies that put customer service as a top priority have tried to keep up with the changes to give customers what they want, but the process remains slow to change.
As many as 95 percent of companies surveyed by Forrester Research say good customer service remains a top priority, yet just 37 percent of the same companies have dedicated budgets to improve that area. In other words, firms want to meet customer expectations in theory, but not in reality. The sooner businesses meet these five expectations, the more market share they maintain.
Current technology allows companies to utilize personalization methods to satisfy customer expectations of customized service. If some aspect of a product does not show up on the screen, a phone number to the company or a chat button should appear. The customer service representative on the other end of the interaction should have thorough knowledge of the product in question. If someone on staff knows how to handle a particularly unique situation, managers should hand over that situation to the rep and give a person one-on-one attention. Firms need to develop relationships to maintain a loyal customer base that keeps coming back for repeat sales, which represents the lifeblood of any business model.
Some customer expectations revolve around more options. People want more options to communicate with the company, such as phone, email, social media and live chat. Online communities, FAQs, how-to videos and self-service modules represent more ways people interact with a company that do not involve contacting someone directly. Automated customer service responses provide lower-cost ways to solve issues since companies do not spend staff time interacting with the masses. Despite these varied methods of communication, each service portal should achieve results that include happier customers.
Thanks to the Internet and cellphones, customer expectations include the possibility of constant contact with a company. Customer service does not end with the resolution of the issue. Good businesses follow up shortly thereafter to determine if the problem was solved. Businesses must ascertain what, when and how customers want to hear from the firm. The more choices for this contact, the better.
Listen and Respond
The most basic tenet of customer service remains listening and responding, and this expectation has not diminished. Immediate feedback with short, online surveys help companies respond instantly to issues within the service department.
Empower the Front Line
Frontline employees handle customer service issues every day. Businesses should empower these people to handle situations eloquently, properly and expediently. Companies need to train reps thoroughly the first time and let them grow with their own experiences. Customer interaction modules should be quick and easy to find, and reps should have daily or weekly updates on new procedures for customer service. That way, people who interact with staff go away from the experience happier and employees do not get as stressed with customers.
Failing to meet customer expectations means consumers may go elsewhere to find what they need. Firms should keep this loss prevention as a top priority before revenue, profits and market share slip away to the competition.
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