Return on Behavior Magazine
Home for marketing and customer service professionals

Customer Experience

September 25th, 2009

Six universal drivers to assure customer satisfaction

A study in the summer of 2006 revealed (again!) that consumers rated customer service as the number one influence for their loyalty to a company.

So what does it take to give your consumers an excellent customer service experience?

One key factor is CONSISTENCY. You need to be consistent across all of your company’s touch points, and especially so in the way you deliver services or products to your customers. A great customer experience sets the foundation for the creation of customer loyalty; this in turn leads to greater profitability.

Here, we will learn more about the four universal drivers which lead to lasting customer service experiences, plus two more factors that can heighten such experiences for your customers.

1. Promptness / responsiveness
One survey showed that the two leading complaints of customers were difficulty in reaching live agents (72%), and being made to wait too long (69%). The survey also showed that half of the people asked said that their calls failed to answer their questions.  So, the questions you should ask yourself are: “Can my customers easily reach me?”  “Am I listening to them & responding promptly?”

It makes no sense talking about good consumer experience, when the customers are already annoyed before getting through to an agent.  Often these are due to extensive IVR-menus or other non-value-creating difficulties that a customer has to go through to contact you.  Make access to customer service as easy as 1-2-3.  Listen to your customers.  Honestly evaluate what they have to say, and you will learn something that benefits your business.

2. Personal attention / empathy
Do you have a “we care” attitude?  If you do not, then there is much work to be done.  Employees need to realize their key role in bringing in, and keeping, the customer.  The “we care” attitude could come in the form of a friendlier voice intonation, a non-scripted probing to understand the concern better, or a sincere willingness to respond to the concern.  Our data for the financial services industry shows that the personal attention, in the form of friendliness and empathy,  is the factor that weighs the most in the overall satisfaction score. {sidebar}

3. Employee competence
Are your employees trained to meet customer expectations? Do you have the processes laid out, and do your employees know what the company expects from them? Every connection with a customer is a moment of truth. If the agent’s dialogue with the customer is unsatisfying, you have not only lost the opportunity of turning the customer in to an external agent for your company, but also most likely reduced the value of your brand.  If you are committed to delivering exceptional customer experience, assure that the first point of contact provides extreme customer satisfaction.

4. Dependability / Reliability
Do you keep your promises? Exaggerated claims lead to customer dissatisfaction. Set your product or service performance standards high enough to attract business; but be realistic enough to deliver or exceed them 100 percent of the time. Customers will be more satisfied if they expect to be placed on hold for 4 minutes and only wait 3, instead of expecting a 2-minute wait and having to wait 2½. Beware: Your customers’ expectations will increase over time and so should your ability to meet them. When making improvements, focus on those areas where expectations are low but the value to the customer is high.

Two additional drivers that generate customer satisfaction:

5. Recovery & Problem Solving
It is a fact that a customer who has encountered a problem, and was satisfied with your prompt and efficient response, actually becomes a more loyal customer than another customer that never had a problem. This boils down to building a culture for speedy resolution, because this creates an opportunity for loyalty.

To pursue this opportunity, you should be able to answer yes to this question: “Do you empower employees to solve problems quickly & perform service recovery?”

6. Reputation & Credibility
Bad news travels faster than good news. As was written in the last issue of this magazine, customers who feel their needs are not being met do not hold back.   They turn elsewhere to buy their products or services Seventy-six percent (76%) of people in a survey conducted in the US market reported that they have stopped doing business with a company with poor customer service. That is a lot of customers! In a business environment where consumers have multiple choices, and where the vast majority of companies depend on their existing customer base for both profitability and growth, focusing on customer experience makes a lot of sense.

Taking care of your customers is not just a fad in today’s customer experience economy. It is a strategy designed to increase profitability and grow your customer base.

Businesses that are successful are those that provide good customer service and experiences.  They have discovered that the customer experience is an  essential component of  the company’s brand identity.

About the Author

Fredrik Abildtrup

Fredrik Abildtrup is the CEO of TeleFaction. He is a seasoned customer experience and Return on Behavior specialist. Currently he is responsible for the growth and internationalization of TeleFaction. Moreover he assists TeleFaction clients in improving customer loyalty, reducing churn and increase cross-sales across customer service contact points. TeleFaction primarily caters to European businesses in the telecom, financial services, energy, travel and transport industries.

He has many years of  business experience, primarily in sales and management. Most recently as the Division Exeuctive with T-Systems Denmark, a sister company to Deutsche Telekom, where he was responsible for more than 100 employees.

Fredrik Abildtrup graduated from the Copenhagen Business School with a degree in International Marketing and Management. Moreover he has a master's degree in International Business obtained via the CEMS-programme at the Universität zu St. Gallen in Switzerland.



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