Don’t be caught on the list of companies that are not using the right tools. Make your customers ecstatic about their buying experience.
Almost anyone who has ever called a customer service phone number has experienced entering their information, like an account number, a phone number, or something else – only to find out moments later that the service person that comes to help you did not receive your information – even after the automated voice said it received it! That’s frustrating! And it’s probably annoying for the employee too! We’re already upset with him the moment he says “Can I get your account number?” This is just one example of companies that don’t use the right tools.
But Senders CEO Florian Seroussi believes that that level of frustration is only a small piece of the problem. “Every call to support or customer service feels like a first time date vs. a long-term relationship,” he told The Motley Fool in an email. “That’s because businesses often aren’t applying the information they already have collected about customers, or what they can easily find available online. This lack of a complete picture about the customer often adds to the delay in understanding the customer’s product or service needs.”
Would it be wise to cut customer service expenses?
In the short term, many companies view customer service as an expense that can be cut. But skimping on customer service can have a direct impact on the bottom line. Texas A&M University marketing professor Leonard Berry has written a number of books on the subject. “Senior managers often fail to understand the hidden, long-term ‘costs’ of poor service. These include costly customer loss and high turnover of the most service-minded employees. Not to mention negative customer word of mouth and reputational damage,” he told The Motley Fool via email.
Berry believes that in many cases, companies are defining what customers want incorrectly. In some cases, he wrote, that means giving more importance to low prices than to treating people well. “This focus on price as value encourages underinvestment in essential operational categories, such as frontline employee training,” he said, noting that value to the customer also includes perceived non-price costs, such as inconvenience or having to deal with indifferent employees. “I teach customer value to my students as ‘benefits received for burdens endured.’ ”
Having the right tools helps us build stronger relationships with our customers.
Josh Plaskoff, director of the Learning and Experience Design Center of Excellence at HighPoint Global, agrees with Berry. He told The Motley Fool via email that the foundation of business is relationships. This lesson is often overshadowed by techniques in marketing and operational strategies. “Short-term and immediate requirements overshadow long-term potential and the customer becomes just another object in the machine,” he wrote. “Operating transactionally, with its emphasis on objective metrics and engineered processes, feeds leaders’ illusion of control and predictability. These are important for good organizational operation; however, when they become dominant at the expense of a company’s relationship with its customers, customer service suffers.”
Plaskoff explained that you have to treat customers as people with feelings, emotions, needs, and a story. “Working with customers on needs and resolution of issues is not a quid pro quo transaction: You give me something and I’ll give you something and we’ll go our merry way,” he wrote. “It is the building of long-term trust and care for the customers as people in the context of their stories.” Services like 4x Buyer Protection give online business owners a unique way to add value to their customers’ buying experience. While online live chat and customer service software like Rhino Support give e-commerce businesses the ability to quickly and professionally respond to potential and current customer questions and complaints.
Special thanks to Daniel B. Kline for sharing his content with us.