81 percent of consumers said they’d likely stop doing business with a company after a poor service experience.
And of those unhappy consumers, only half may return.
Customer service can sometimes be taken for granted. But it is clearly an integral piece of any customer loyalty program especially a premium loyalty program.
We reached out to Shep Hyken, who is one of the industry’s foremost thought leaders in the area of customer service.
Besides being a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author, he founded Shepard Presentations in 1983 and has worked with hundreds of clients, including American Airlines, AAA, Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Aetna, and American Express.
We caught up with Shep for an intriguing interview about the importance of customer service in today’s loyalty industry.
Jim Tierney: What are brands doing well regarding customer service and where do the challenges lie?
Shep Hyken: Brand are recognizing that there’s a need to deliver a better customer experience. They see that their competitors are doing this, and they better do it too.
Companies have to recognize that customer experiences are compared to the best companies their customers do business with. Amazon has impacted what the definition of great customer service is.
The moment you click on the button to buy it, the moment the order has shipped, the moment the order has arrived … all these moments are constantly reinforcing your decision to do business with Amazon.
Brands need to decide if they truly want a culture focused on the customer. What is it that my customer wants and are we delivering a good level of service at these spots?
What’s driving that process to be successful are the people who drive the bus.
Look at process and people. Look at the culture you’ve created. It’s not by accident there are companies out there who are recognized for great service. What’s happening inside these companies reflects the outside.
Jim: Can you talk about ways that brands can make their customer support agents more engaged with the product to improve the quality of calls?
Shep: Agents need to be empowered to make good decisions on behalf of customers. Teach them where to go and how far to go. Teach them where the line in the sand is.
Equip agents with tools to do an effective job. Agents should have all customer information on their record of interactions. Knowledge is power. Not just for the product, but knowledge of the customer.
Make it easy for agents to interact with customers. Don’t make it inconvenient for customers. Know me. Utilize technology like voice authentication. Allow metrics for agents to have good experiences with customers.
Jim: Has rapidly changing technology changed customer service?
Shep: Customer service really hasn’t changed at all. They want their questions or problems answered or resolved or answered. What has changed is all of what happens in the middle. The outcome still needs to be the same.
I’m totally in favor of self-service chatbots and AI. I love when they work well and it’s easy for the customers. A lot of customers enjoy that route. But the moment they need to talk to someone, it needs to be quick and seamless.
That’s the way that digital customer support should work. You need a human backup.
Jim: What are the common mistakes made in customer service?
Shep: Putting the wrong people on the front line. Some think that customer service is just a department. It’s part of the culture. It’s a philosophy.
Jim: What makes a stellar customer service department?
Shep: When it is customer focused, it’s convenient for customers to get to, and when customers get off the phone, they say, “I love doing business with them because they always address my questions quickly”.
True customer service is not just about fixing a problem. It’s about restoring confidence. That’s the most important piece. Just do what you’re supposed to do in a convenient and frictionless way.
Restoring confidence involves acknowledging a problem, apologizing for it, discussing a resolution, acting with urgency, and owning the experience. That’s restoring confidence.
Act with urgency because just fixing the problem doesn’t bring them back. That’s what makes a stellar customer service department.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
As Shep says, look at your process and people because what’s happening inside these companies reflects on the outside.
Agents need to be empowered to make good decisions on behalf of customers. Teach them where to go and how far to go.
Don’t make it inconvenient for customers to interact with you.
True customer service is not just about fixing a problem. It’s about restoring confidence. That’s the most important piece. And that will never change.