By Mae Kowalke
All service providers know that, ultimately, their success or failure hinges on outstanding service. Keeping customers happy is the first defense against churn. But this is often easier said than done.
Alcatel-Lucent takes a straightforward approach to this challenge, advising that providers should do whatever is takes to make it easy for customers to remain loyal. Any business decision must come back to reducing the time and effort, on both sides, associated with customer interactions.
It comes down to this: in a world where no-one has enough time to realistically get everything done each day, the last thing customers are likely to tolerate is having to waste precious minutes resolving service issues. Customer service transformation is all about time.
Customer experience management (CEM) solutions must take this critical element – time – into account. For today’s service providers, efficient CEM means doing everything possible to speed up time to resolution, but also knowing when to cut their losses.
“There are a multitude of reasons why people end their ‘relationship’ with companies, and sometimes they are just hell-bent on so doing,” noted Vincent Kavanagh, Senior Business Consultant at Alcatel-Lucent, in a recent blog on CEM, Customer Experience Management and the Thieves of Time. “But there are many, many, more times when the relationship is soured by the way in which interactions (or ‘touch-points’ if you must) between the two parties are handled by the company.”
Oddly enough, although providers know it costs between 5 and 10 times more to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing one, CEM tends to be given a much lower priority than activities focused on winning new clients.
“Companies sometimes actively drive away some of their most profitable customers long before their ‘customer lifetime’ would otherwise have come to an end,” Kavanagh said in his blog.
For example, as the customer base shifts from one generation to another, tolerance is rapidly declining for spending time in an interactive voice response (IVR) system or any type of customer service queue.
“As attention spans reduce and patience wears ever thinner, it is increasingly the case that one of the things people value and cherish most, and resent the loss of, is TIME,” Kavanagh stressed. Their perception is that their time is a precious commodity, and that commodity prices are rising. If the customer has to waste time calling about an issue, you as a company are stealing away bits and pieces of their time. And they won’t put up with it.”
In short, if doing business with a provider isn’t fast and easy, customers won’t hesitate a moment to walk away and find an alternative that takes less time.
Since most of today’s customers (89 percent, according to a recent Genesys survey) interact with providers over multiple channels, which tend to change randomly over time, it’s imperative for each of those channels to give the provider the same view of the client, and to give the client a similarly quick path to problem resolution.
In traditional customer service methodology there is the concept of the Net Promoter Score or NPS: how likely a customer is to recommend your service to someone else. Alcatel-Lucent suggests that providers should instead consider the customer effort score, or how quick and easy it is for customers to complete service transactions and get help.
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