Posts

5 Shocking Stats on Bad Customer Experience

Earlier this year the world was shocked by a graphic video of David Dao, a Kentucky man, who was dragged off a United Flight, his face bloodied and body limp. But this wasn’t the first time United had problems. There was the famous 2009 music video, United Breaks Guitars, created after the bassist for the band Sons of Maxwell saw his $3500 Taylor bass guitar nonchalantly thrown to the ground by United baggage handlers.

Incidents like these and others turn viral on social media. They shock us, offend us, even outrage us. But are these highly visible events exceptions, or do they happen more often than we believe?

Unfortunately they’re just the tip of the iceberg. We researched the topic and found some shocking statistics about the pervasiveness of bad customer service in business today, and turned it into an infographic.

Here are some of the findings

86% of customers have to contact customer service multiple times for the same reason

Have you ever tried to get a problem resolved by calling a company’s customer service line, only to get no resolution? Fully 86% of customer service calls don’t’ resolve the issues the calls were about, forcing customers to call over and over again to try to get resolutions to the same problems.

85% are put on hold for too long

Do you think being put on hold for 5 minutes is a long time? That’s the time when people usually hang up the phone, because of the perception they’ve been left hanging for too long. And 85% of consumers calling into customer service lines feel like they’ve been put on hold for too long.

84% of customer service agents can’t answer the questions

Not being able to answer questions is so frustrating, principally because you call customer service to get your questions answer and your problems solved. A lot of this is either a training problem, a hiring problem, a process-flow problem or all three.

82% of customer service agencies are impolite or unfriendly

Now this goes directly counter to the purpose of customer service, which is to help customers. When you call into a help line you’re usually irritated, angry, and frustrated. If the customer service rep who answers is unfriendly or short with you, it could be the spark that makes you explode. The fact that 82% of reps are insensitive to the emotional state of the people calling in is completely unacceptable.

83% of consumers have to repeat the same information to multiple reps

This is my pet peeve. I have seen my emotional state go from mildly frustrated to infuriated in just a matter of minutes when I’ve been bounced from rep to rep, only to repeats my story three or more times. Unfortunately this is way too common as well.

5 negative customer experiences

5 negative customer experiences [infographic]

 

,

Customer Loyalty on the Cloud is priceless

Sales and marketing gurus love to focus on how to create more awareness, generate more leads, and close more sales. It’s what’s “sexy” in the blogging world.

But the old refrain, “It’s easier to sell to existing customers than to new ones,” is truer now than ever before.

In our infographic on Customer Loyalty In The Cloud” we share some of the key business benefits of loyalty for cloud vendors:

Loyalty tips

  • Communicate with your customers
  • Provide great customer service and support
  • Optimize your customer’s experience
  • Build employee loyalty

Why is Loyalty Imperative

  • It costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one
  • 80% of revenue for most companies comes from 20% of their customers
  • It’s easier to sell a new product to your existing customer base than to new customers
  • 91% of dissatisfied customers who switch to another company will never come back
Customer loyalty on the cloud

Customer loyalty on the cloud [infographic]

,

Customer Experience Management through service…beyond operational metrics

We all like graphs! It’s something that comes natural, especially in the customer support business. We all want to know where we stand when it comes to response times, ticket volumes, resolution times, top issues, CSAT, NPS, etc. And all of that is more than ok to measure, as it helps us improve our customer support operations and services.

Reports, whether dynamically generated or periodic, help us to have a clear understanding of how we are doing, so we can diagnose issues, implement actions/changes and then measure again, to hopefully confirm a positive impact.

Design, monitor and measure in alignment with Ideal Customer Experience

But how do we measure our customer’s experience with our product or brand? How do we perform customer experience management when it comes to support and service. That is not something that is easily achieved, and operational metrics like CSAT do not tell the whole story. We must come up with ways to LISTEN to the Voice of the Customer (VOC) along all the key touchpoints in our customer’s journey. Many of those, we know, happen as the customer interacts with our support and service teams. Whatever we measure needs to be aligned with the “ideal” customer experience we’d like for our product or brand to deliver. For example, what is a given customer (or persona) willing to do and not willing to do in order to contact us for a solution (e.g. yes to calling on the phone, but no to self-searching our KB)?, and what does the data tell us about how we’re complying with those wishes?

Monitoring our adherence to the right “hows” of delivering the ideal customer experience is an art, not a science, and must start with mapping the customer journey so that we know what those key touchpoints and moments-of-truth are in the first place. Then comes the creative process of deciding how we’re going to deliver (talent, channels, coverage, policies, etc) and what we must pay attention to on the back end. That will will most certainly need a combination of operational metrics and our observation of customer behavior and feedback any way that makes sense.

Fix, but delight too: the Customer Experience difference

We all know a great customer support experience can be the best thing when it comes to customer retention, hopefully creating product brand advocates in the process. But how exactly do you know what type of experience your client will consider great? And therefore, how do you design it?

A b2b software company might need to design customer support processes where quick turnaround, fast resolution time, preciseness are key attributes of a successful interaction. Customers want things fixed, and they want them fixed now.

On the other hand, we tend to believe that a b2c or e-commerce company might benefit a lot more from focusing on the softer, human aspects of the interaction: empathy, patience, hand-holding, wow! Not that these attributes aren’t important in all settings, but the emphasis on them is usually more or less depending on the type of support or assistance being provided.

Take for example the online shopping site Zappos. Their customer support processes encourage support agents to go out of their way to create a WOW moment on every call they receive from their customers. Zappos has created a brand for themselves around service, which is what customers mostly rave about. They feel they’re being helped by real people.

With the advent of the cloud, SaaS and other types of subscription models, customer support of technology products must take a page out of the best customer service organizations out there. Yes, it’s about fixing the problem, but if you want that subscription to be renewed next month, you better leave your customer feeling pretty good too!

From Social Support to Social Customer Engagement

Customer support through Internet social channels is certainly not something new. It has been around for more than a few years now, with bulletin boards, forums and other open discussion sites being the original set of channels companies used. What has changed is the role of the people monitoring those discussions on behalf of companies. The community manager, mostly a marketing role in many companies, has now evolved into a more robust role, that of the Social Customer Engagement Agent.

Social Customer Engagement Agents (SCEAs) sit at the intersection of customer support and marketing. Customer service and support is indeed the “new” marketing. A good, hopefully great, experience is the only thing that keeps customers coming back to a brand nowadays, in many ultracompetitive industries. Therefore, SCEAs have a dual responsibility for monitoring social networks (increasingly through software to that effect), reacting to customers concerns, comments, rants and issues preemptively, leveraging the power of expert users and promoters help resolve issues and questions directly, but also carefully caring for your brand online with every post and interaction.

What does this mean exactly for Customer Support or Customer Success organizations? Well, it means that the people in charge of your social media support cannot have the same training/mindset/skills of support engineers responding to support tickets on e-mail or picking up support phone calls. The discussions are markedly different, and not necessarily issue or problem specific. Although it is plausible to have hybrid agents who do both, you should also consider specialized SCEAs, budget permitting, that provide those dimensions of online social literacy and CX/branding sensibility while engaging with customers. That said, the function of SCEAs is not magic, and must be designed and managed as an operation of its own, process and policy included.

Finally, here are some helpful facts about social networks, as it applies to customer support:

According to Pew Research Center’s Internet Project Library Survey (September 2013): 71% of online adults use Facebook, while 18% of online adults use Twitter.

Facebook is the preferred channel when it comes to social media support.

The demographics are:

90% of 18-29 years old use social media, while 78% of 30-49 years old and 65% of 50-64 years do.

Follow through, so simple yet…

It is quite common to “throw out there” idealisms on how much customers matter to us, it’s quite easy to say and even advertise the idea of how important our customers are, how customers come first, how customer service oriented we are. But just how true is that? Is this a reality all throughout the customers’ journey with us? Or is it more focused on the sales phase?

Engaging customers and getting them to adopt our product is just the initial phase of what can hopefully be a long term relationship. Now its time to follow trough with the promises we made.

Following through means making our customer feel appreciated, and when is our greatest opportunity to do so? When they reach out to us if issues arise, when they are the most vulnerable. That is the perfect opportunity to turn what can be a “sour” moment into an opportunity to provide them with great customer support that will keep them coming back for more of what we offer.

It is at this time when we can shine and make them feel that they got more than just a product or service, they got our commitment to helping them make their life easier. This is a no-brainer. Taking care of our customers and providing them with great customer support experiences is the key to customer loyalty and creating brand ambassadors.

Follow through means doing what we say we would do, being on top of customer issues and inquiries without our customer having to ask again, offering a bit more than they expected, surprising them with our follow up. Follow through needs to be a practice that we embed into our workflows and processes, not just a loose guideline, or something we leave up to the talent or discretion of each support agent. And we need to measure it.

And what are the benefits of designing your support around your customer? What does this mean in numbers? Well according to the Harvard Business School, increasing customer retention by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

So we need to start following through with our promises to our clients, their loyalty depends on it.

The importance of Proactive Support

A recent survey by InContact of more than 2,000 people, to see how they felt about proactive support, produced the following findings:

87% of the customers they surveyed said they want to be contacted proactively by a company; and
Nearly three quarters (73%) of those who had a pleasant surprise or positive experience with a proactive customer service call, said that they had a positive change in their perception of the business calling them.

Usually when we think of customer support, we think of the act of reaching out to a company that provides some type of service when things go wrong. For a long time, that has been the mindset of both the Service Companies and their customers.

But things are changing , and have been for some time now. We have to realize that our support organizations are our greatest customer loyalty asset. The concept of PROACTIVE support should become an expectation for your support organization rather than a random practice.

When we talk about Proactive support, we are not really talking about foreseeing and preventing every single problem your client might experience at one time or another. That is impossible. Nor are we talking about the traditional “heads up” automated email to customers when, for example, your server goes down, which is fine as a start of a proactive process. We are also talking about more than acknowledgement. Think about doing things like:

  • Following up after an automated email with a MANUAL email, call, txt message, etc.
  • Acknowledging the problem but providing most if not all of the following:
  • Details of what the exact problem is
  •  The status of our troubleshooting or fix
  •  If possible, sharing the plan or steps required to fix it
  • And, most importantly to the customer, giving him an ETA for the fix, whenever possible

Proactive Support is many times about how you REACT. It’s about truly caring for your customers and the impact they feel when there is a service interruption or an unscheduled event or failure which affects the full availability of the product. It’s about anticipating what they want to know and how they want to be treated, depending on the situation.

You will not always be able to provide all of the things mentioned above, in which case, KEEP IN CONSTANT CONTACT with your client. Letting them know that your support or engineering team is working on finding a solution is many times more than enough (within and up to an acceptable time frame of course), even if it’s with a simple “we just want to let you know we are still working on it”. It’s always amazing to me how support organizations don’t even do that many times.

There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than being left in the dark when problems occur, this creates the sense that the service provider (YOUR COMPANY!) is not knowledgeable about the services, technology or product they are selling, OR (which is worse) doesn’t care about the impact of a service failure on their customers.

Another form of Proactive support would be one NOT associated with an ongoing problem. What about calling a client just to ask: “Hi, just wanted to check if things are running smoothly”, or “we just wanted to make sure that the problem you experienced last week, month, quarter, has not reoccurred.”

Imagine the impact that would have on your client! And the way they would perceive your company’s level care for them.

This type of support is what can transform a customer support/care/service organization into the brand advocacy and customer loyalty machine it can be.

,

How is support of SaaS/Cloud Products Different Than Traditional Products?

A question we get a lot is: “What is the difference between support for cloud products vs. traditional software products?” This question always amazes us, because at Infolink, as product support specialists, we believe the difference is vast.

Customer Experience is Key to the Saas/Cloud Business Model

To explain the difference between support for on-premise or perpetual license software applications vs. cloud-based software, let’s first draw the distinction between the two business models.

Traditional software vendors sell a perpetual license with a 3-year or less support contract. Sometimes customers will not renew the support contract, or after a period of time the vendor stops supporting the product because they have released a new version. Their previous version is now obsolete and it’s more expensive to support it.

The customer experience is not critical to the business model. There is no incentive to delight the customer. Once they buy the license(s), they own it, and that’s it.

Support for Cloud Products is Key for Customer Retention

But for SaaS software vendors, the user experience is a critical part of their business model. The distinguishing factor for the SaaS model is Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR). Most SaaS vendors have no long-term contracts (with a few exceptions). The customer can choose to end the relationship at any time, and the monthly revenue the vendor was relying on could be gone – forever.

Customer retention is baked-in to the SaaS business model. So key to cloud-app customer retention is driving great customer experience through all key touch points, or moments of truth.

Customer Experience and Moments of Truth

Jan Carlzon, CEO of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) from 1981-1994, introduced the term Moments of Truth in his book of the same name. Carlzon describes turning around the the flagging airline by focusing on delivering an above average customer experience through all their customer’s moments of truth. The lessons Carlzon introduces apply perfectly to SaaS companies.

But what are Moments of Truth? They are: “…any time the customer comes into contact with any aspect of a company.”

In the case of an airline, they could be when a consumer makes a reservation, checks their bags, checks in at the ticket counter, or when they board at the gate.

What are the Moents of Truth for a SaaS product? They are:

  • Sign-up
  • Onboarding
  • Provisioning
  • Training
  • Tech Support

Deliver A Wonderful Experience at Each Moment of Truth

Each one of these touch-points provides the SaaS vendor the opportunity to either make an awesome first impression, or lose the customer.

The customer care team now has to be trained to go beyond the break-fix model, and to comprehend their function as critical to user adoption and satisfaction.

In the SaaS model there are no significant consulting/professional services anymore. The customer care or support organization, starting with Tier 1, now becomes central to a high volume, high touch customer experience delivery situation, which directly drives revenue retention and growth.