The other day I was driving home (my commute is almost over an hour each way) and was musing about customer service. I’m not quite sure why, but I was. What struck me was that many companies view customer service as a cost of doing business — not a way to increase business; not a way to drive references; not a way to drive repeat purchases but simply as a “cost”. This, however, is a well known statement – it has been this way for years and will, likely, be this way for years to come. It is only those “stellar few” that have transformed their customer service, client care, support, order management etc organizations into one that transcends the simple “How can I help you as fast as humanly possible”? The fact is…this is solely driven due to apathy and lack of vision.
I’m sure the question is – does he have a point?
The answer is yes. My point is that if companies changed their perspective to what Mike Faith, CEO of Headset.com, calls an “extreme customer love philosophy.” (help.com blog, 11/23/2014) or Zappos calls “Deliver WOW through Service” (Zappos.com), I believe that companies would be more profitable for their shareholders and owners while, simultaneously, delivering a more enjoyable and satisfying atmosphere for their employees. Headsets.com turnover is 15% or less in a typical industry with turnover greater than 50% (CNN.com). Zappos is at 40% or less (including promotions) in 2008, when average turnover industry wide was over 150% (Inc.com).
The cost of turnover for a good contact center agent (which are the ones that will leave because they truly want to drive a happy customer) is 20% of an individuals annual salary for individuals earning less than $50k a year (CBSNews.com). Assuming that your contact center is of decent size (100 people), that you have a 50% turnover (50 people) and that your average wage is $30,000, you’ve just lost $300,000 because your contact center is mediocre, refuses to invest in their employees and feels that “bare minimum” is good enough.
I guess I’d rather spend that $300,000 somewhere else.
The other day, I saw an image floating around and it struck me as a good way to live and run a business. Whether it’s sales, service & support, an operational business, or some other way that you’re running your business, it’s the people that you build off of; it’s not the business that builds itself.
Too many companies, both large and small, believe that the business will sustain itself and that the people in it don’t really matter a great deal. I hold this to be a fallacy and have never seen a successful department, organization or business that treats its employees without respect. At a macro level, a large company may be able to succeed (and succeed well) when a single department or organization doesn’t hold their people as a treasure mine, but once you get down to it, the fact is that particular group is likely failing itself and being propped up by the larger company.
It’s a fairly simple concept, though. Support your team, lead your vision, and your team will execute towards success. Build the business without the people and you’ll likely be alone when everything comes crumbling down beside you.
A little bit ago, I wrote on Micro vs Macro and the customer experience. In there, I alluded to separating the two typical terms of customer experience measurement.
Why should we differentiate between loyalty and satisfaction? I’ve been asked this a lot in the past while and, really, it’s a good question. We’ve been targeting Customer Satisfaction for years. What’s wrong with this measurement? At its root, there probably isn’t anything wrong with it and if it’s the measure that works for you and your business, then I would suggest continuing down that path. That having been said, maybe it’s time to broaden your view and elevate your expectations.
Here’s some relevant definitions for this discussion:
What is a Customer: one that purchases a commodity or service (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/customer)
What is Satisfaction: a result that deals with a problem or complaint in an acceptable way (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/satisfaction)
What is Loyalty: the quality or state of being loyal (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loyalty) …. Don’t you hate it when definitions seem a bit circular…
What is Loyal: having or showing complete and constant support for someone or something (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loyal)
Now that we have that out of the way, which seems more appealing to you? A one time result that deals with a problem or complaint in an “acceptable way” or a customer that shows complete and constant support? I know which one I’d prefer to have as someone doing business with my company.
The only way to do this, however, is to really understand the lifecycle of the customer and the entire process. It’s not always possible to satisfy someone 100% of the time (at least not while also staying in business), but it is possible to build a person’s loyalty by treating them right, providing them stellar service, great sales, and excellent interactions throughout the start to finish of their partnership with you as a company.
Michel Falcon is a public speaker and business coach in the space of customer experience. He posted something a little while ago called “Customer Experience isn’t Customer Service.”
In that blog, he had a single line that struck me as excessively poignant.
Customer experience is the premeditated design of what your customer experiences when doing business with you from beginning to end.
Too many companies focus in the micro-transaction instead of the macro-experience around the customer. Elevating the experience from mediocre to phenomenal takes a lot more focused effort than how do I handle this single transaction, this single event. There is a massive difference between how someone implements their business and focuses on the customer.
All too often, companies make the statement of “we’re customer focused”. What does this mean? In many cases, it means that they handle the individual micro-transaction with the customer well or it means that the company is rated A+ on the BBB or it means that they have a 5 star rating for customer service on Yelp. When you drill down into the depths of this, the fact is that the majority of the BBB or Yelp ratings are based on a single event – a single opportunity to do well or badly. It doesn’t mean that there is a strategic, concerted effort to build a customer experience from start to finish for the entire lifecycle of that customer.
Similar to the difference between Customer Loyalty and Customer Satisfaction (which I’ll cover in another blog post), Customer Experience and Customer Service are two separate entities. One speaks to the way that you service a complaint or deal with an order. The other, the more broad reaching, speaks to the overall impact that your business can have.
Customer Service leads to Satisfaction. Customer Experience leads to Loyalty.