It may seem a bit odd to examine the importance of customer service, especially since it’s become such an accepted part of business practice. The idea that companies need to focus on customer complaints, inquiries and general customer care is now a central part of any company’s business strategy. The average B2C or B2B company will have some level of customer service function in the business. Customer service has become simple business sense, but is it that simple and straightforward? Also why is customer service important? It is important to reflect on why customer service is important apart from the common sense understanding of taking care of your customers.
The reality is that for most organisations’ customer service is considered important but most often considered a justifiable expense rather than an investment. At In-gage we have worked for the last 20 years seeking to prove the value of customer service for a company’s bottom line and built our salesforce contact centre app to help companies increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. The challenge for most businesses is identifying the right indicators that will prove the financial return of customer service.
Let’s look at one of the indicators that can prove value of service to the bottom line, that is Customer Loyalty. Customers are generally forgiving of the fact that there might be glitch or problem with a product or service. The way that a customer complaint or inquiry is handled will determine whether that said customer will become loyal or rushing to google searching for an alternative. The key feature of customer service is that it’s part of establishing and maintaining loyalty and ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction.
Often customers will go to a competing brand that charges a higher price just to be guaranteed good customer service. Customer service does what your sales and marketing team often struggle to do, they create customer loyalty. Customer service should be considered an important part of a company’s post-sale strategy.
A case in point is the British retailer John Lewis. As a company John Lewis has made customer service a key part of their business, all staff members at the retailer are sent for customer service training before they start their first day at the retailer. In addition to this front-line staff are empowered to make decisions themselves improving efficiency and allowing them to give bespoke customer service. If you have had a good customer service experience with a company, you are more likely to continue purchasing products or services from the same company. The result of customer loyalty is an increase in the average customer lifespan will lead to increased profits for the business.
Creating Brand Advocates or Detractors
Customers that are loyal will also become advocates for your brand or service. If you’re a company that is competing in a crowded landscape customer service can become a key way of distinguishing yourself from the competition. Excellent customer service helps to improve your brand persona, if you deliver stellar customer service then it becomes associated with your brand.
Often companies spend endless resources of time and money on the customer journey to acquisition but spend little time on thinking about their customer service operation. In fact customer service is often the last thing to be discussed by companies. However brands that have a reputation for high quality customer service can establish themselves as a premium brand or service.
Companies that have brand advocates will lead to increased profits through word of mouth sales. It is important to remember that word of mouth sales is often more effective than standard advertising or public relations and its free! Nielsen reports that 92% of consumers trust suggestions from friends and family more than advertising.
If your customer service organisation is working effectively, they should be receiving great customer feedback and great NPS scores. Great companies are able to use customer feedback for much more than getting a good score. Customer feedback is not only a barometer of customer satisfaction but can be utilised for product development. The feedback that you receive from your customers should be part of your research and development strategy or product development team. Many companies spend thousands on market research agencies and focus groups only to build products or develop services that no one wants. If your able to monitor and analyse your customer data effectively in salesforce that can provide insights that can help you improve your existing products and create new products.
The feedback can also be used to help improve your existing customer service processes and guide system improvements. One of the areas that customer feedback can assist in delivering process improvements is training and development. With individualised feedback customer service organisations can go even further and develop tailored training programs that are specific to the individual agent. The resulting training and development will lead to consistent service and satisfied customers.
At In-gage we have found that customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, brand advocacy and customer feedback are ways in which customer service can add to the bottom line of a business. The reason that we developed our contact centre salesforce app was to help companies build high performing customer service teams and prove the financial return of service.
When our customers installed our salesforce app they were able to not only see and measure key points but were able to take action resulting in NPS increases of 22%, 14% increases in word of mouth sales and 30% reduction in customer churn. The most important thing is that our customers have been able to prove the value of customer service. The ability to bring together customer feedback and insights back into the broader business has meant that our customers have been able to make service a central part of the business.