National Customer service week – Day 1

Insight: Knowing your customer and how to deliver to them.

National Customer Service Week is a five-day celebration of customer service, running from 7-11 October 2019. Promoted by the Institute of Customer Service it will focus on a different theme each day, and we’ll be offering some thoughts on each theme in a daily blog. Today’s thread is "Insight: knowing your customer and how to deliver to them".

Great customer service is built on an understanding of the kind of experience your customers are looking for. To build that understanding we believe in a three-step process in which insight is the key ingredient:

  • Step 1 - Gather feedback
  • Step 2 – Uncover insight
  • Step 3 – Implement actions

Gathering feedback

For us there are four ways to gather feedback from and about customers – Relationship surveys, Transactional surveys, Voice of the Contact Centre surveys and analysis of unstructured comments on social media

Relationship surveys are typically conducted on a periodic basis across all customers and seek to understand the overall relationship between brand and customer. They’ll measure brand strength, overall performance, standing against competitors, loyalty and advocacy.

By contrast, Transactional surveys seek to generate insight from a specific interaction between company and customer - purchase, renewal, change of details etc. These surveys can be completed through IVR, SMS, web or email but the closer they are to the ‘moment of truth’ in the customer journey the more valuable the insight. They will seek to shine a light on critical elements such as: how easy was the company to deal with, was the query resolved, how did the person/website perform and would the customer recommend you to a friend or colleague.

Voice of the Contact Centre surveys will draw in feedback from your own front-line employees, those responsible for ensuring your customers have a great experience. Generating feedback from within can shed new light on key issues and priorities. And engaging your employees in the process of feedback will make them more involved in the overall process for improved customer experience.

Unstructured feedback is how we describe the brand commentary that runs continuously on social media. Tools like the ServiceTick Social tracker can monitor the sentiment of these comments and highlight issues that need to be addressed.

Uncovering insight

"You can't manage what you can't measure" is a long-standing principle of business. Metrics such as Effort and CSAT and NPS have been developed to measure different aspects of customer experience: Effort and CSAT have an obvious role to play in gauging customer response to a recent transaction or experience; NPS, recommending a brand, may take into account a much wider range of experience than just a recent transaction. All are useful but for different purposes and you need to be clear on objectives before implementing any of them.

In the past, feedback has been tightly managed by ‘gatekeeper’ research teams. To be effective insight needs to be freely available across the whole organisation. A good insight programme will identify improvements that can be made to the delivery of customer service, but it will also:

  • identify the skills and behaviours your agents should exhibit and which should form the basis of your recruitment strategies.
  • Support your IT and digital teams by highlighting failures related to the digital customer journey
  • Uncover new opportunities for product development
  • Highlight areas where the brand reputation can be strengthened.

Implementing actions

Insight without action is worthless. Implementing a 'You said. We did' culture brings both internal and external benefits. Colleagues welcome change and improvements; while customers appreciate that their feedback is noted and acted on and are prepared to give more.
And insight will drive improvements across the board:

  • Real-time feedback can drive alerts that allow you to re-engage with disgruntled customers and turn them for detractors to promoters
  • Service bottlenecks can be identified and rectified
  • Customer feedback can highlight which agents need what kind of training
  • It can be used to ensure that your company remains compliant with regulatory demands.

Customer experience is now firmly established as a strategic priority in most businesses. It is no longer an adjunct of operations, a 'poor cousin' to marketing. It has become the battleground on which a majority of players have realised they need to compete in the coming decades. Insight is the fuel that drive great customer experience; make sure your tank is full.

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