Some years back, customers didn’t expect much from companies. Buy a product… get a thank you… and maybe a smile. Today’s customer relationship equation is markedly different. Customers expect not just friendly service; they expect a very distinct set of behaviors and experiences.
Our current business environment is one of heightened competition, and customer experiences are part of a complex matrix of what makes a customer choose or stay with one company over another.
In a recent report, Why Customers Stay or Stray: Insight From Global Customer Experience Research, we published the findings of an AchieveGlobal worldwide consumer survey about real customer service. Our discoveries point to how crucial it is for companies to get it right – to train their employees to listen, pick up on cues, and respond.
Here are a few key findings found in this report:
- Some customers said that being heard and respected are more important than having an issue resolved.
- Rudeness and indifference are ranked among top negative in-person behaviors.
- The top three negative phone behaviors included: being transferred multiple times, not getting a real person and being put on hold.
What’s the big picture take-away from these findings?
What matters most is the emotional impact of interactions with front-line employees. Even more than problem-solving capabilities, customers value good interpersonal skills of the employee representatives of the companies with whom they do business…
to solve an issue: Tolerable...
...if a customer service representative demonstrates engaged listening, courtesy and proactive care.
distraction and indifference: Intolerable!
It’s as simple as that.
In the past, customers would be more likely to stay with a company whose products they valued, but whose customer service was mediocre. Today, the customer wants great products, coupled with great service.
In fact, fifty percent of our survey participants said they would be likely to take their business elsewhere after just one single bad experience.
As service companies, we have just one chance to get it right.
My advice? Teach associates to put added focus on the emotional, interpersonal side of customer interactions… Listen and respect!
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida