Stop trying to delight your Customers

To really win their loyalty, forget the bells and whistles and just solve their problems!

Conventional wisdom holds that to increase loyalty, companies must “delight” customers by exceeding service expectations. A large scale study finds that what customers really want (but rarely get) is just a satisfactory solution to their service issue.

Reps should focus on reducing the effort customers must make. Doing so increases the likelihood that they will return to the company, increase the amount they spend there, and speak positively (and not negatively) about it—in other words, that they’ll become more loyal.

To meet customers’ expectations, reps should anticipate and head off the need for follow-up calls, address the emotional side of interactions, minimize the need for customers to switch service channels, listen to and learn from disgruntled customers, and focus on problem solving, not speed.

The idea that companies must “delight” their customers has become so entrenched that managers rarely examine it. But ask yourself this: How often does someone patronize a company specifically because of its over-the top service? You can probably think of a few examples, such as the traveler who makes a point of returning to a hotel that has a particularly attentive staff. But you probably can’t come up with many.

Now ask yourself: How often do consumers cut companies loose because of terrible service? All the time. They exact revenge on airlines that lose their bags, cable providers whose technicians keep them waiting, companies whose reps put them on permanent hold, and dry cleaners who don’t understand what “rush order” means.

Consumers’ impulse to punish bad service— at least more readily than to reward delightful service—plays out dramatically in both phonebased and self-service interactions, which are most companies’ largest customer service channels. In those settings, our research shows, loyalty has a lot more to do with how well companies
deliver on their basic, even plain-vanilla promises than on how dazzling the service experience might be. Yet most companies have failed to realize this and pay dearly in terms of wasted investments and lost customers.

To examine the links between customer service and loyalty, a study of more than 75,000 people who had interacted over the phone with contact-center representatives or through self-service channels such as the web, voice prompts, chat, and e-mail.

The research addressed three questions:

• How important is customer service to loyalty?
• Which customer service activities increase loyalty, and which don’t?
• Can companies increase loyalty without raising their customer service operating costs?

Two critical findings emerged that should affect every company’s customer service strategy.
First, delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty; reducing their effort—the work they must do to get their problem solved—does. Second, acting deliberately on this insight can help improve customer service, reduce customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.

ProAptivity, NI CRM Solutions provider, work with a wide range of customer service organisation to deliver effective contact centre and customer self service Customer management solutions. To find out how ProAptivity can add value to your customer service approach. Contact us today on / 028 9073 5630.

Source: Harvard business review • july–august 2010

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