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Customer Service Week: Let’s make it a service success

These dates should remind us of the professionals and organisations that streamline internal business processes and improve customer engagement levels. Across the industry, there are experts, individuals and organisations that work together to build customer-centric cultures which understand customer needs and translate them into actions that grow revenue and profits. These professionals and businesses recognise the efforts that it takes to create long-term brand loyalty and true customer engagement. And this week we should celebrate and emulate their actions, taking a moment to understand the voice of our customers and make this week and every week a customer service success. 

If you look to the US, according to a Forrester report titled The Business Impact of Customer Service, the companies recognised as Customer Experience (CX) leaders financially outperform the competition with a 43 percent gain in financial performance, compared with only a 14.5 percent increase for the S&P 500 and a 34 percent decrease for customer experience slackers. These stats prove that creating a customer-centric culture and focus on the customer experience is good for business.  Yet, these figures also deepen the divide between companies that see the value versus those that don’t consider customers in business strategy and tactics. While many of us cannot fathom the logic in such decisions, companies are still choosing short-term revenue over long-term loyalty.

Building Customer-Centric Environments

Let’s look at how some organisations make decisions to influence the customer experience. Take the airline industry, for example. Some airlines are very interested in customer feedback and incorporate these insights into everyday business decisions, whereas others aren’t quite as focused on the customer experience.  Seat size is always a hot topic. Some airlines have reduced coach seat sizes to a ridiculously small width, and when customers complain they suggest buying a more expensive seat. Another airline has taken ignoring customer complaints to a new level by removing reclining features from seats, locking seat backs upright for the entire flight. In fact, an industry analyst recently noted that when it comes to size of seats, the revenue benefit to the company would probably trump any customer pushback. 

But some have taken a different path altogether and instead place value on customer feedback as they work to meet the challenge of increasingly full flights. One major New Zealand carrier launched “cuddle class,” an innovative seating arrangement that allows coach passengers to lie down during flights. A leading German carrier has found a way to thin down their seats and move the magazine holder to behind the tray table, adding more legroom for the coach traveller. 

The challenges are the same for most airlines. But, these airlines differentiate themselves by listening to their customers and frontline employees.  Because these businesses have prioritised customer feedback as a strategic priority, they have empowered employees to listen and take recommendations to heart in order to make positive changes  across the organisation that impact the customer experience. As a result, individual customer service professionals, frontline employees and businesses are better able to make decisions that directly impact their customers and contribute to bottom line growth, brand loyalty and long-term financial performance. 

Best Practices for Long-Term Customer Engagement
Considering the examples above, what follows are three ways to keep the focus on the customer: 

Hire a CX professional to lead the charge: As we honour the CX professional this month, we see organisations that have invested in a customer experience program. These companies are increasing their momentum towards customer-centricity.  They are satisfying the customer while also meeting business needs.  Most importantly, they are positioning themselves for the future by engaging the customer according to his or her specific needs and building long-term loyalty. 

Challenge the organisation to do things differently: Left to their own devices organisations will continue to manage the same they always have. Challenge your organisation to look collecting and incorporating the voice of the customer in process and system improvements.  Talk internally about how to best engage customers with each and every interaction and across the entire customer journey. Not only will customers respond to these changes with their loyalty, but early success will create an excitement internally to further support a customer-centric culture. 

Empower employees: Employee satisfaction has a direct correlation to customer satisfaction, and can significantly impact the success of a company. When approached as a strategic priority, employee engagement can directly affect business outcomes such as reducing absenteeism, increasing productivity and improving the financial performance of the organisation. These employees can also affect the bottom line by driving interactions with customers in new and positive ways to help encourage them to invest in your organisation. 

Celebrating Customer Experience Professionals

With Customer Service Week upon us, it’s a good reminder to think about the methods in which your business engages with customers. This is important not only as a way to strengthen your business, but also to differentiate yourself from the competition. Today, the ultimate business strategy is to actively engage customers in order to understand their behaviours and improve the journey to establish long-term brand loyalty. While we take stock of our assets, it’s often our frontline teams who are responsible for listening to the customer every day, and best understand their wants/needs and know how to affect change. For this, we thank all the customer service and experience professionals who listen, advise and help customers stay loyal to our brands and improve our business practices in order for us to succeed.