Bellbottoms are coming back in style. It seems every few years I hear this but the retro-trend never actually seems to materialize. It makes for good chit chat, but beyond that such chatter, is more or less idle.
It also seems to me the same is true of customer service. Every few years there’s a new book that forewarns of a customer revolution. Mass media, the web, social media were all destined to change customer service. And yet it hasn’t.
Good customer service isn’t the rule, it’s an exception.
Litmus test? Quick name five businesses you can think of with exceptional customer service.
I can get to three: Amazon, AT&T and Zappos. And I purchased shoes online…once…from Amazon.
Most people, I’d venture to say, will find this exercise challenging. As Scott Stratten once said, “Really, to be great at customer service, you only need to be mediocre, because everyone else sucks.”
Although his zinger earns a few chuckles, I don’t think he was kidding.
Outsourcing. Automated phone lines. Self-help forums that don’t really answer the right questions. When a crisis hits, wait out the storm, and then, resume business as usual.
The irony of automation, which is frequently pitched as building tighter relationships with customers, often only serves to put distance between a business and its customers.
Voice of Customer
The Social Times recently published an infographic by a UK-based software company called SDL. It calls for “global customer experience wakeup call” and is based on a survey of nearly 3,000 people in nine countries.
Some of the statistics are truly astonishing:
- 76% experienced their worse customer experience in the last two years
- Top failures include: unresponsiveness, un- empowered employees and poor training
- 82% of customers try to resolve the problem with the brand
- Brands can experience a 65% drop in spend the year after failing a customer
- 66% percent stop recommending the brand
There’s a huge opportunity – a perennial opportunity – for business to differentiate itself by virtue of the way it treats its customers. Good customer service is more expensive, but then again, so is the cost of acquiring new customers.
The complete infographic follows below:
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