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Warning!: The following is only for firms that want to grow fast and make a ton of money.
In my experience (yours too, I bet) the technology arms at most firms tend be staffed by people who, though highly competent in their areas of expertise, don’t always put a big emphasis on providing customers with a “positive customer experience” and who, all things considered, would prefer to not talk to customers at all if they could get away with it.
Guess what? Customers have a different view! From eMarketer Daily, a new survey shows that fully 74% of U.S. Internet users say they take quality of customer experience into account in selecting products and services.
Three-quarters of a group is of course a huge majority. The eMarketer data reveals an enormous customer need that goes unfilled way, way too often. When was the last time you trained your entire staff on customer service? Understanding technology is great but, as the survey shows, great technology won’t count for much unless you can match it with soft skills into a package that makes your customers happy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the customer experience is critical to your brand.
Combine technology, speed, and service, and you’ll have the basis for a powerful, differentiated offering. Take a quick mental test: Do you have live people that can answer the call when there is a problem 24/7? Are they nice?&nbsp;
At too many firms, incredibly, the answer to those questions is “no.” Companies delude themselves into believing that they are achieving “economies” by switching to interactive voice-response technology or by outsourcing their call centers offshore, to places like India.
Alternatively, in today's economy, companies might find that there’s a benefit in actually keeping customers. I estimate over 90% of customers hate both voice mail and having their calls diverted to faraway places staffed by operators whose first language isn’t English, and who aren’t empowered to solve customer problems on the spot.
Then again, the companies that do this sort of thing are your competitors. Their customers’ frustration is your opportunity. Take advantage of it.
What do you think? Let me know!
John Tschohl is a service strategist, and is president of the Service Quality Institute of Minneapolis, Minn.