The pandemic has proven a catalyst for companies to enhance their customer experience (CX), retain customers, and build loyalty.
A McKinsey & Company report sums up the challenge and reward of improving customer experiences: “The recent shifts in consumer behaviors and expectations brought about by COVID-19 are forcing companies to change how they connect with and serve customers. Those that do not adjust to the next normal will quickly be left behind. History clearly shows the value of investing in customer experience during a downturn. In the last economic recession, companies that prioritized customer experience realized three times the shareholder returns compared to the companies that did not.”
The report continues, “In ten years of helping more than 900 companies design and execute enterprise-wide customer-experience programs, we have seen this approach deliver powerful results: 15 to 20 percent increases in sales conversion rates, 20 to 50 percent declines in service costs, and 10 to 20 percent improvement in customer satisfaction.”
Key to good customer service is to some extent adhering to company core values, then using those tenets to improve. In essence, it’s making promises match performance. McKinsey points out, “A good CX aspiration delivers on company purpose and brand promise. In alignment with their company missions, Nike seeks to deliver inspirational experiences, Starbucks looks to provide experiences that nurture, and BMW seeks to offer the ultimate driving experience. Costco doesn’t try to replicate the experience its customers have at high-end retailers but instead provides a no-frills in-store experience that reflects its low-cost brand promise.”
According to the McKinsey report, this needs to be an all-hands on deck commitment to focusing on customer service: “Customer-centric mindsets… front-line employees receive practical tips on how to put themselves in their customers’ shoes and demonstrate empathy when engaging with customers. CX managers and innovation teams build skills around redesigning customer experiences and mobilizing cross-functional teams. Executives receive tips on how to support, accelerate, and celebrate customer-centricity within the organization…”
Spurred by the pandemic, enhanced customer service initiatives are here to stay. Increasingly, even very bottom-line oriented companies are making the connection between keeping customers happy and consequent profitability. They’re also realizing in many cases that this formula also pleases shareholders, so it’s a winning formula all the way around.
For customers, choices are becoming clearer by the day. Companies that seem unwilling to do more than pay lip service to solid customer service are taking major hits to their reputation via social and mainstream media. When there’s a report of a company treating a customer badly, it spreads like wildfire—casting an immediate pall on its reputation and in some cases causing share value to plummet immediately.
Conversely, companies with stellar customer service reputations can withstand the occasional negative report or review in a much more robust way than those getting called on the carpet all the time for poor service.
Company authenticity and dedication to customer service throughout the organization will become the norm, not the exception, as customer experience continues to evolve and put additional competitive pressure on companies that don’t jump on the bandwagon.
Promises and performance are chief spotlights of customer service. Companies that over-promise and under-deliver increasingly are finding their reputations, and consequently their revenues, jeopardized. Conversely, companies that go the extra mile to meet or even exceed their promises are retaining existing customers while attracting new ones—often in droves. As the spotlight on enlightened customer service intensifies, buyers are gravitating ever-more-quickly toward companies that make their promises match performance.Mark Lusky
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Mark Lusky (aka The Happy Curmudgeon)
is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm. He’s a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience, and author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage.