Providing good customer service involves delivering what you have promised.
But providing excellent customer service requires putting yourself in your customers’ shoes to understand how they interact with you at every step in their journey. It requires knowing them so well that you can deliver long lasting value based on your ability to anticipate their needs and exceed their expectations.
However, recent research indicates that many businesses are falling short, lacking a clear understanding of who their customers are and what they expect:
- According to almost 90% of the 1,135 marketers surveyed as part of IBM's “Listening to the Customer” report, personalizing the customer experience is critical to their success. Despite this, nearly 80% of customers stated that the average brand "doesn't understand them as an individual."
- A Bain and Company survey of 362 businesses found that 80% of those businesses thought they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers. But their customers told a different story: only 8% felt they had received what they would consider to be superior service.
- SDL’s 2015 customer experience study found 45% of customers couldn’t remember having a recent successful customer experience. Problems included poor response times (according to 35% of survey respondents); poorly trained customer-facing employees (according to 30% of respondents); and employees lacking the empowerment to sufficiently help them (according to 31% of respondents). Moreover, 29% had received inaccurate or conflicting information when they talked to customer service representatives.
So, even though many businesses are congratulating themselves on a job well done, the majority of customers wouldn’t agree with this assessment.
And to ignore this disconnect between your customers’ perception of quality and your business’s own opinion of the service you are providing is to risk alienating – and, worse, losing – your customers to a competitor. Keep in mind that just two years ago nearly 80% of transactions were not completed due to the above-mentioned frustrations.
How Do Your Customer Perceive Value?
In many cases, perceptions of the customer experience are not shared by both a business and its’ customers. And to further complicate matters, how your customers perceive the value of the experience you deliver is, often, subjective and not always shared by customers across the board.
The customer journey is an experience that shifts from customer to customer, based on each customer’s perception of how you are treating them. This perception of your business determines whether or not they will continue to do business with you and recommend you to others.
The value a customer perceives when buying and using your product or service is based on numerous factors:
- How well your product or service delivers expected functions and fulfills a need.
- How skilled you are at exceeding your customers’ needs and providing them with targeted offers.
- How your customers perceive your brand and every interaction they have with it.
Given that these factors contribute to 70% of a customer’s perceptions of a brand, your business must maintain a clear customer experience focus. Not doing so increases your risk of losing customers and falling behind the competition, a fact made clear by Microsoft’s 2015 “Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report” which shows that:
- 97% of global consumers say that customer service is very important or somewhat important in their choice of and loyalty to a brand.
- 62% of consumers have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience.
- 60% of consumers have higher expectations for customer service now than they did just two years ago.
In other words, providing your customers with value is not just important; it’s necessary to your business’s success. If you don’t understand your customers well and are not attentive to their needs every time you are in contact with them, you can expect to see a decrease in customer loyalty.
Get to Know Your Customers
Any serious effort to deliver value requires an ongoing examination of who each of your customers are and what they expect.
A good place to start is by investing in a good customer relationship management system (CRM). Your CRM will help you identify patterns so you can see when your customers typically make orders, what they order, and why. It will also help you analyze your performance by showing how quickly you have been able to respond to or deliver orders.
Customer feedback surveys are another excellent way to gain insights into your customers’ thoughts about your product or service and the overall experience you provide. Moreover, asking for feedback makes your customers feel valued. According to one recent study, 62% of respondents say they are more likely to purchase from a business that asks for their opinion.
In either case, having a better understanding of your customers will ensure you are delivering the memorable, positive experience your customers are looking for. Investing in knowledge tools like a CRM system or customer feedback surveys will provide customer insights which will determine your business’ success or failure.