American Express reported that, according to research, Americans will tell 15 people about their bad brand experiences but only 11 people about their good ones. To someone who sees this as generic data, the implication is that a customer would propagate a poor experience to approximately 40% more people than a good experience. This confirms the psychological phenomenon that negativity garners more lasting responses than positivity.
These are the facts that led brands to become more conscious about their customer support practices. That said, in trying to revamp their policies many brands lean into myths that make no business sense nor bring any customer satisfaction:
1. The Great Myth: The Customer is Always Right.
This is thought to have been perpetuated by sales gurus and trainers. In reality, the rule is a bit too archaic to be followed today. It originated to make production-intensive businesses pay closer attention to customer complaints and improve their products. But today’s brands and businesses are already building solutions around customers; therefore, the assumption that the customer will always be right is too utopian.
Businesses need to see that customers are subconsciously prone to self-serving biases. Under a self-serving bias, individuals only look at things using their preconceived perception that their beliefs are correct and everyone else’s are not. This may be the case when customers contact brands with complaints. As a result, brands need to display an objective view when interacting with customers. They can do this by:
a. Focusing on Transparent and Honest Communication. This helps in building trust. Regardless of the problem, the brand needs to be honest. You would be surprised to know how many customer service executives don’t follow these practices. It can be as small as promising the time required to work on the customer complaint or about accepting a bug in the process. A customer is more likely to agree to wait an additional day for resolution than dealing with false promises.
b. Always Keep the Customer in the Loop. This follows the above principle. A customer would prefer to know their stage of complaint resolution than wait for the final resolution to magically show up.
c. Maintain Customer Data and Run Analytics. Brands should maintain customer data and analyze it with every interaction. Several insights can be ascertained, like trends in customer complaints, geographic trends and time differences between product purchases and initial complaints.
2. More training for customer care executives = More satisfied customers.
Sales coaches and marketing gurus want you to believe that training is the only way you can mold your customer executives into performing their jobs better. But think about it – this is also the only way that they can propagate their own business agenda. Even with good sales trainers, your employees can only be given a certain set of tools for handling customers. Your employees’ real mindset will depend on the degree of freedom they are provided when handling customers.
Top managers create procedures and directives for their employees to follow when handling customers, but the correlation of customer satisfaction is to the degree of empowerment your customer care teams are provided. You can use Chatbots to address routine customer queries and complaints. Here’s where your protocols and rules come in handy. When it comes to anomalous customer queries, employees can use live chat but will need a freer hand. This is where brand regulations won’t enter the picture. If you do not provide this, you will see impediments:
a. On the customer end, as the customer executives will need to get repeated supervisor permission leading to longer waiting periods for already-agitated customers; and/or,
b. With managers, who will get dragged into daily operations and menial tasks rather than making more-efficient processes.
An empirical study published for banks showed that when employees were given more structural and psychological power they had a direct positive effect on customer satisfaction. Employees are empowered by:
a. Providing them with an achievement vs. designation-oriented work culture.
b. Giving them contingent decision-making powers.
c. Linking incentives to customer satisfaction levels.
3. The customer is the centerpiece of customer service.
This is a key point for both established and upcoming brands. Top management often tries to establish the right procedures, protocols, and strategies to keep the customer at the center of the business without showing the desired results. They miss out on the key part of the puzzle – their internal customers, i.e. their very own employees. As the CEO/Manager of your company, you try your best to ensure customer centricity but the foundational work is performed by your employees. Therefore, you need to ensure that you are taking care of your employees. Then they will automatically take care of your customers.
A scholarly study published by Hallym University (Korea) and California State University – Sacramento (USA) proved a direct correlation between employee and customer satisfaction. Businesses need to focus on their employees, so their employees can focus on their customers. A further study by Gallup showed that satisfied employees lead to:
Increased sales because they bring in new business;
Better customer retention;
Reduced churn rates.
These results are evident following the leadership principle, stated by Simon Sinek – employees will go beyond their call of duty when they know that their managers will do the same for them, if required. Employees are enthusiastic to go beyond their basic job description because they know that they have the complete support of their brand and top management.
4. No complaints = Happy customers.
A decrease in customer complaints may not be a positive sign. Many customers don’t have time or opportunity to express their discomfort with a brand, so many customers may simply choose not to complain. This is possible when:
a. The switching costs are negligible. It will motivate them to simply change service providers instead of talking to customer executives.
b. The complaint filing process is arduous and time-consuming.
c. Word-of-mouth has shown that the brand is unresponsive in solving customer queries. In this case, the business will need to pay for its past mistakes.
Brands need to be proactive when communicating with customers and asking for feedback. Management can gauge a customer’s perception of the brand and uncover insights that might otherwise go unnoticed. Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb, personally reached out to customers during the initial days of its operations. One customer gave Chesky an entire book of ideas on how to add more features to the app, which helped uncover various nuances seen only from a customer’s perspective. By not proactively reaching out to customers, brands are missing out on important customer insight and feedback.
Sam Makad is an experienced writer and marketing consultant. His expertise lies in marketing and advertising. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their business and overall ROI.
Linkedin : https://www.linkedin.com/in/sammakad/