The following post was written by Kate Leggett, principal analyst at Forrester Research.
Customers want efficient, effortless service from the touchpoint and communication channel of their choice. They want to receive accurate, relevant, and complete answers to their questions upon first contact with a company. Forrester data backs this up: Sixty-six percent of customers say that “valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service.” Forty-five percent of U.S. online adults will abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.
Why is it so important to deliver on customer expectations? Customer satisfaction correlates to customer loyalty, and loyalty has economic benefits. Forrester calculates that a 10 percent improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion in revenue. Conversely, poor customer experiences are costly: Our data shows that 75 percent of consumers move to another channel when online service fails, which can incur a cost of many millions of dollars.
We also know that it is difficult to deliver customer service in line with customer expectations. Our customer service technology ecosystem is increasingly complex. Social technologies have disrupted traditional communications, and smartphones and tablets have made the delivery of consistent experiences across touchpoints more challenging. And the number of vendor mergers and acquisitions has complicated vendor selection. So how do you do better? Forrester’s Customer Service Playbook details a four-step prescription that can help you out:
- Discover what matters for customer service. Understand customer-facing, agent-facing, and technology trends that are shaping the future of customer service–trends like changes in communication channel usage by demographic, mobility solutions for customer service, the value of tighter coupling of knowledge management to case management, BPM adoption, the rising importance of outsourcing, cloud-based technologies, and the evolving technology landscape.
- Plan for improvements. Assess your current operations against best practices to understand your strengths and pinpoint areas of opportunity. This will help you build a concrete plan for improvements and lay out a technology adoption road map. It will help you answer questions such as “Do I first fix my IVR navigation, launch Web self-service, or update my case management solution?”
- Act on your findings. With your planning in place, it’s time to choose whether to outsource customer service operations and/or technology, buy it from a vendor, or, in unique cases, build it yourself. This decision is very important, as the vendor landscape is broad, mature, and rife with mergers and acquisitions. Partnering with the right technology provider can make or break your operations.
- Optimize. Customer service is no longer viewed as just a cost center. Key success metrics have historically focused on productivity, efficiency, and regulatory compliance instead of customer satisfaction. However, forward-thinking organizations are gradually adopting a balanced scorecard of metrics that include not only cost and compliance, but also customer satisfaction, which is more suited to drive the right agent behavior and deliver outcomes better aligned to customer expectations.