This is an excellent article extolling the virtues of excellent customer service. I worked in the telecommunications industry for six years, and the customer service reputation of the particular company I worked for was horrible – our Net Promoter Score was actually in negative territory.
Like many other organizations, this company did not fully consider excellent customer service when constructing a technology platform. The thought process went something like this: “We have this great technology, and we need to get it to market as quickly as possible. How do we get it into people’s homes? Once we get it there, how do we bill for it?”
During my tenure at this organization, I spent a tremendous amount of time and exerted loads of professional energy, unfortunately to no avail, to get the right people together in order to re-engineer the customer service experience. Start with the experience you want your customers to have, then design and build the systems and procedures and insert the right people to create and deliver that experience. This is often easier said than done, however, when legacy systems are in place and a lot of capital has already been invested in those systems.
Although most organizations tend to view excellent customer service or just customer service in general as a cost center, in reality it may be one of the largest profit centers for a company.
Original Blog Post from Forrester below:
Why Customer Experience? Why Now? By: Kerry Bodine
For decades, companies have been promising to delight customers, while simultaneously disappointing them in nearly every channel. That tactic won’t cut it anymore. Why not? We’ve entered a new era that Forrester calls the age of the customer — a time when focus on the customer matters more than any other strategic imperative. In the age of the customer, companies find that:
- Commoditization has stripped away existing sources of differentiation. Competitive barriers of the past like manufacturing strength, distribution power, and information mastery can’t save you today — one by one, each of these corporate investments has been commoditized.
- Traditional industry boundaries have dissolved. Companies in every industry find themselves competing with new types of competitors — automakers with services like Zipcar, newspapers with Google News, travel agents with Expedia, and the entire retail industry with eBay.
- Customers have more power than ever. With online reviews, social networks, and mobile web access, it’s easy for your customers to know more about your products, services, competitors, and pricing than you — and to share their opinions of your company with their friends.
Those are the global business trends. But what specific business benefits can companies expect to gain from customer experience investments? Every firm in every industry can leverage great customer experiences to:
- Bolster brand equity. Referencing customer service conversations, Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com’s chief executive officer, wrote in Delivering Happiness, “Our belief is that the telephone is one of the best branding devices out there.” Even with conservative estimates, it’s easy to make the case that the call center has influence on par with, if not greater than, that of mass advertising campaigns. And the call center is just one of many customer touchpoints where the experience influences the customer’s impression of a brand.
- Garner customer loyalty. Years of Forrester data confirm the strong relationship between the quality of a firm’s customer experience and loyalty measures like willingness to consider the company for another purchase, likelihood to switch providers, and likelihood to recommend. We’ve also found a solid connection between customer experience ratings and Net Promoter Score in multiple industries.
- Boost revenue. Even small shifts in customer loyalty can translate into billions of dollars of incremental revenue each year for firms in some industries. One example: B2B company CDW drove $230 million in incremental revenue in just one year by following up on sales leads identified through customer loyalty surveys.
- Drive down costs. Through its voice of the customer program, Fidelity Investments recently identified a problem with account authentication in its interactive voice response system. It recruited a few associates to discuss the issue, identified its root cause, and quickly launched a solution. Its estimated annual cost savings from this one fix: $4 million. Other companies count their savings in terms of higher employee retention.
The big takeaway? Companies need to start treating customer experience as a business discipline — not a bumper sticker.
If you need to make the case for customer experience at your company, you should:
- Download a free (yup, free!) copy of our report, “Why Customer Experience? Why Now?”
- Attend our webinar this Thursday, October 13, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time (18:00 UK time). Bring any colleagues who are wondering why customer experience matters — and what they need to do about it. (Please note that there’s a fee for this event if you’re not a Forrester client.)
- Join our online discussion about how to convince your execs to commit to customer experience initiatives.