Call it what you want, customer care, customer service, customer experience—the basics are still grounded in traditional tactics that worked hundreds of years ago. Today’s discussions, offerings and latest shiny tech toys are all variations on the same themes we’ve always cited as keys to success.
According to astutesolutions.com: “78% of consumers said their customer service experience improves when agents don’t sound like they’re reading from a script. (Software Advice)…46% of consumers will abandon a brand if employees are not knowledgeable. (PwC)…71% of customers expect customer service agents already to have information regarding their previous interactions with the brand. (Radial).”
Okay, so we respond positively to real, sincere conversation, a rep who knows their stuff, and recollection of previous communications. In essence, that’s the same as the consumer at the local medieval market having a productive conversation with the owner. The article references the key takeaway as, “Leveraging emerging technologies and empowering agents with timely and targeted insights are helping brands better support their customers on their different channels and breed loyalty.”
That’s just an au courant way of saying that customers will stick around if they receive intelligent, accurate input.
The difference today is that, while the medieval market owner likely could remember most or all of his or her customers, that realistically won’t happen when customers number in the thousands or beyond. Enter fancy technology to give reps the tools to emulate the medieval owner experience.
To spread the word about all of this, the article cites an oldie-but-goodie as a powerful tool: Fifty-percent of Americans would choose word-of-mouth as their information source.
Back in medieval days, it was predominantly word-of-mouth in small villages and towns. There weren’t a bunch of other options to address reputation management. All of this addresses the issue of how the more things change, the more they stay the same—even centuries later. Simplicity continues to shine amid a marketplace crowded with sophisticated customer service/customer experience tools.
Notes the article: “64% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to others if it offers simpler experiences and communications. (Siegel+Gale)…71% of people recommend a product or service because they received a ‘great experience’. (Convince & Convert Consulting).”
More than ever, people want simple and basic “feel good” experiences in a complicated world. The more “advanced” we get, the more people seem to gravitate to the basics.
For marketers, this presents a clear and present challenge: How to meet these consumer wants and needs in a sincere and effective way. Advertising continues to dominate communications channels despite the article assertion that “65% of all consumers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising. (PwC)”
People watching their favorite Super Bowl ads likely are getting more from the entertainment value than the credibility factor.
Despite the decidedly less credible impact of advertising, it continues to proliferate. It will be intriguing to see how these trends change over time as the undeniable influence of authenticity and transparency impacts the hype factor that still prevails in much of today’s advertising.
Authenticity and transparency go further. The article points out: “Did you know? One study found that answering a customer complaint on social media can increase advocacy by as much as 25%, and not responding to it can decrease customer advocacy by 50%. (Convince & Convert)…Key takeaway: The snowball effect of good and bad experiences is as prominent as ever today. With word-of-mouth’s significant impact on people’s purchasing decisions, having the measures to monitor and quickly escalate brand mentions and reviews from social media and review sites is essential to gauge customers’ experiences with your brand and address potential product and PR issues.”
My key takeaways about dealing with complaints are: Respond honestly and fully, try to turn a problem into a loyalty-building solution, then, make sure the world knows about it.
It’s simple, elegant, and time-tested. Figure out how to further incorporate the basics into every-day transactions and experiences.
Is taking care of customers a strategy or a tactic? Is it transactional or a relationship? Does it encompass problem-solving or the totality of the experience with the customer? The answer to all of this is…all of this. In some circles, the process of problem-solving with customers is a series of tactical transactions. In other circles, customer care involves an overarching strategy that addresses making the total customer relationship as positive as possible. In some cases, transactional, tactical care is called customer service, while strategic relationship-building and tending is called customer experience. No matter what you call it, it’s all important. Maximum benefits are achieved when a global customer relationship strategy is developed, then implemented in a hands-on way with every customer conversation.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.