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Customer Experience Makeover - What to Work on First?

by Jack Wilkie, Chief Marketing Officer, Dialog Direct - July 31, 2014

Customer Experience Makeover

What to Work on First?

I love the Desperate Landscape and Yard Crasher television shows where properties are transformed in a day or two and homeowners’ yards go from “worst” to “first” in their neighborhoods.

Enhancing yards and customer experience have a similar process albeit a longer time frame. The question is the same. What to work on first?

Both homeowners and executives keen on customer experience share a common desire and willingness to make changes for long term improvement.

It’s a relatively simple task for yard renovations. Clear everything from the landscape. Show owners a plan they love and bring in crews to deliver the landscape lottery.

While that makes for entertaining TV, where should savvy executives focus attention on delivering the customer experience that positively defines their brand? We asked Mary Murcott, President of the Customer Experience Institute for Dialog Direct how companies can get the most bang for their buck to enhance customer experiences.

“It really becomes a question of where to focus your time, money and staff resources,” said Murcott. Based upon her international consulting background and operational experience Murcott suggested incorporating the following 5-steps into any customer experience transformation plan.

1. Drive unspoken complaints to the contact center

Beg for complaints! That’s right. Get customers to complain so you know what is broken and can address the issue. In fact, recent loyalty surveys confirm that consumers with problems who did not complain were less loyal than those who did and had their issues resolved. Therefore, every problem presents an opportunity to enhance both loyalty and word of mouth. That’s how you mine gold from customer complaints.

John Goodman, Vice Chairman for Customer Care Measurement and Consulting coined the phrase “trained helplessness.” This is when customers stop complaining because they don’t think it will do any good or it’s too difficult to get action. CCMC surveys revealing recent decline in complaint rates is further evidence of growing consumer cynicism that complaining doesn’t do any good. The customer adopts the mind-set it’s futile to bother complaining because nobody will change the policy.

If you want to enhance loyalty make it easy for the customer to complain (provide feedback). Drive unspoken complaints to your contact center. Stop hiding company toll free numbers in the bowels of your website. Have an 800 number on every page to enhance your company customer effort score and set the stage to make things right.

2. Reduce avoidable service contacts

“The best customer service is if the customer doesn't need to call you, doesn't need to talk to you. It just works,” says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Do you agree that the best service is “no service? That may sound provocative, but the whole point is to make product and service use intuitive and reduce contacts required via web or contact centers.

The ultimate goal is effortless customer service. Companies should strive to design products, services and websites that eliminate need for service contacts.

3. Low effort – eliminate dissatisfied customers

A common industry standard for measuring service is the 5-box customer satisfaction scale with 1 being “very dissatisfied” and 5 being “very satisfied.” So which group deserves most of your attention? You’ll get more by moving “very dissatisfied” and “dissatisfied” to “satisfied” than moving “satisfied” to “very satisfied.” Frankly, there is more brand equity to be gained here. First, breakdown, analyze and understand why customers are dissatisfied. Determine frequency of complaints by topic, frustration levels and driver correlation with repurchase decisions. Finally measure your “tail FCR rates.” What issues are taking three, four or five calls to resolve instead of one or two? Repeat calls to resolve issues is where customer frustration really goes through the roof.

4. Deliver First Call Resolution and issue avoidance

To achieve this Holy Grail metric in the contact center we must anticipate the “go -with” questions to the customer’s initial inquiry. Go- with questions are those the customer should have asked, but forgot to or couldn’t anticipate. Only tell the customers about the most important other thing they should know. Don’t drown them with 2 or 3. By anticipating the questions and having ready responses you will increase customer service representative confidence and heighten FCR rates. Future issues and calls can be avoided if service representatives tell customers the single most important thing to ease their life going forward. There may be 3, 4 or 5 things that could help customers, but focus on the single most important 1. Messaging will be simple and memorable. Gaining this competency can be achieved with a terrific knowledge management base. Dialog Direct has developed this type of knowledgeable management base which has dramatically improved FCR and as a side benefit, actually reduced AHT (average handle time)!

5. Move “satisfied” customers to “very satisfied” customers.

But make this the last priority! Why? Because making this final step will require a lot of time and effort to achieve a minimal uplift. However, if you have really fixed steps 1-4 above, your organization is in the champion mode and so by all means goes for it. The benefit is with “word of mouth/mouse” advertising. Only very satisfied customers will recommend your products and services to others because when they provide that endorsement they are putting their personal reputation on the line. They will only recommend a company where they feel others will get a repeat performance of what they just experienced. Very satisfied customers are extremely loyal whereas simply satisfied customers are easily lost. To avoid defection, get your customers into the #5 category. It’s listed #5 on this list because it’s hard to do. This is where you’ll get the biggest long-term payoff in terms of brand equity, loyalty and propensity to repurchase.

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Jack Wilkie
Chief Marketing Officer
Dialog Direct

About Dialog Direct

Dialog Direct is an integrated marketing solution provider that helps businesses attract leads, increase sales and inspire members through direct marketing and customer engagement solutions. The company is based in Highland Park, MI and employs more than 5,000 workers operating from 12 contact centers and 4 fulfillment centers in the U.S.

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