It seems lately that every major corporation is seeking to find an effective customer service strategy. And while the emphasis on customer service is clearly in the best interests of any business, with customer acquisition costs estimated to be four to six times more than customer retention costs, many businesses seem to miss the mark on what an effective customer service strategy should look like.
A big part of the problem is that customer service has morphed over the last two decades. With the growth of the internet, sites such as Angie’s List, Kudzu, and social media allow potential clients to shop businesses based upon customer service more than ever before. People, meanwhile, are statistically twice as likely to share a bad customer service experience as good. As such, customer expectation is growing. The days of a scripted “welcome” when a customer enters a store or a generic “thank you” email satisfying a client’s expectations are gone. Not when the company down the block is going “above and beyond” to make a client feel “welcomed” and “valued.” And not when most companies now have customer service surveys sent to every client for every interaction.
So to keep up with the changing trends, it is important to evaluate what customer service means to a company. Is it a buzzword for the purposes of good publicity? Is it truly a core business component? Is there an effective, unified plan that runs across all platforms and is rolled out to every employee?
These questions get at the heart of a customer experience plan. Customer service is simply that: service. Customer experience, however, encompasses everything from a company’s website to newsletters and email blasts to client-facing interactions. In today’s marketplace, consistency is key. Sales reps for instance, may be extensively trained on customer service skills, given that they are interacting with potential customers every day. If, however, support staff are not given the same training then there will be a break in service and the client will not have the expected experience.
So to truly develop world class customer service, think beyond service to an experience. A unified customer experience plan that is rolled out to every employee will take service from good to great and ensure every client receives the expected level of service every time, regardless of why the client is interacting with the company.