The Life of the Customer
Companies are realizing that customer satisfaction is a key to growing their business. With the cost of gaining a new customer on the rise and with the many options customers have of where to spend their hard earned money, emphasis is being placed on increasing the customer experience at every touch point. Multi channel service is growing rapidly via phone, email, chat, social media and face to face interactions.
Within these channels, many companies have formed teams of specialists to service the customer to the best of their abilities. Even specialized teams within teams are created, ie sales teams, retention teams, escalation teams, dispatch teams, follow up and survey teams and the list goes on. The purpose of each is to create and maintain a happy customer who will continue to do business with the brand and create future referrals.
Company management will often be the first to tell you that they are all about customer satisfaction. In the quest to increase customer satisfaction many have been measuring the quality of each interaction with the customer by implementing internal and external quality assurance teams, CSAT surveys etc.
So why do so many companies lose business even though their customer satisfaction scores show positive results? I’m reminded of the lecture I saw on Ted Talk when Simon Sinek said “Customers don’t buy your products or services, they buy how you make them feel.”
The thing with feelings is that they change over time. With all the different departments and the way customers have to interact with a company, management needs to create a “feeling” that is consistent among all channels through all customer interactions. More than that, when a person from a sales department speaks to a prospective customer, the feeling that the customer gets should be the same as when the next sales person receives a call from the same customer and more than that, if that same prospect sends an email or a web chat, that same feeling should resonate. Easier said than done, yes, but companies willing to invest in the total customer experience will reap the rewards of more business from existing clients as well as a boost in referral business.
Two examples come to mind. I was having lunch with a few friends yesterday and one said that he’s looking to replace the windows in his home. He remembered one of the guys at the table had just put in new windows less than a year ago, so his questions to him went something like this: “So I’m looking to replace my windows and I spoke to a couple different companies and I’m getting quotes and stories that are all over the place. You just replaced your windows, didn’t you? Who did you use? Do you trust them? Would you recommend I use them or in hind sight use someone else? Did you have any leaks later and how quickly did they fix it? I was also told that lifetime warranties are just a sales gimmick so I don’t think that really matters.”
Now being that I’m in the contact and call center industry and part of a company that is nearshore in Latin America and since we have an account that deals in residential services (not windows) and we handle their phone sales and customer service and also dispatch their contractors, handle their social media, respond to the emails, chat services as well as follow up survey for after job satisfaction, I was very interested in where this conversation was going!
The response was that he wouldn’t go out on a limb and recommend anyone. He got quotes from three different companies and went with one of them. They were pretty good. The salesperson gave him a good deal and at least he didn’t have to watch the installers while they were working because it seemed like they were doing a thorough and clean job. As far as leaks, he had a window that leaked a few months in and after a couple of calls they came out and fixed it free of charge. He said “You know how these things go. To go out and install new windows they’re quick, but on warranties you need to hound them a bit to get what you need done. It’s just how it works in these types of industries”.
It’s just how it works in these types of industries. Really? “Why should it be like that in these types of industries?” I interjected.
“Because they already made their money on the sale” he responds, “now everything else takes away from the bottom line. So when I call sales I get an answer right away, but to get a person to service me after the job is done, I tend to call a couple of times, stay on hold for a while… but it doesn’t matter, I’m persistent. They get it done eventually.”
It would have been great for the window company to be in on this lunch. A person just asked his friend for a referral on a 20-30k job and since the follow up was ok, he didn’t get a rave review. The feeling the company has left an existing customer was OK. It wasn’t that he was dissatisfied. It wasn’t that he wasn’t going to do business with them in the future, but he clearly was not a raving fan. He was not an advocate for the business and did not refer them business.
Today’s challenge for companies is to see and measure the customer satisfaction through the life of the customer. Every point of contact matters. Teams must communicate the same message to their customers through all points of contact during all stages of the customer interaction. They must identify what that customer cycle is and truly understand how they are perceived in that cycle today. Then they should measure their performance in that cycle and build cross-functional teams to support those functions that need improvement as well as build open channels of communication between teams.
As best-selling marketing author Seth Godin wrote:
“Don’t touch it, you might break it.” This is, of course, the opposite of, “Touch it, you can make it better.” What’s the default where you work?
So go out there and create a process to support and enhance those customer life cycles and create a culture of constant improvement.
This article was written by Perry Silber, COO of GuateCall. Our contact center is a Latin American Nearshore call center provider of multi-channel bilingual English and Spanish services located In Guatemala,Central America. If you would like to learn more about GuateCall and its services in voice, chat and email in both English and Spanish, please reach out to me at 713-474-2222 or by e-mail.