How to improve customer satisfaction by rethinking customer journeys
Why is Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) important?
High customer satisfaction catalyzes all kinds of great stuff. It builds loyalty and retention, thus reducing costs, and it gives you free, word-of-mouth marketing when your customers recommend your company to their friends, increasing revenue. It also provides invaluable data to inform your company’s next moves and helps you project your company’s future.
Touchpoints versus journeys
One of the most common obstacles companies face when trying to improve customer satisfaction scores is that they focus on individual interactions, rather than looking at the customer’s overall experience. Improving CSAT implies more than simply improving customer service; it involves understanding how each interaction fits into a sequence and then figuring out how to simplify.
For example, if a cable company has an onboarding process that takes two months, eight phone calls, several web interactions, and a home visit from a technician, the issue is clear. Each of those individual touchpoints may get high marks, but CSAT overall will be low because the customer will have endured an ordeal by the end. Taking stock of individual touchpoints can mislead companies to try to optimize things that might not even need to exist. In this case, the onboarding process itself should be reviewed and streamlined.
Customer Service Platforms such as LiveEngage or Lithium can help businesses see what these journeys actually look like to customers, which can be super helpful and inform next steps. More on Customer Service Platform here.
Measuring customer effort, the ease of a customer’s experience, can succeed where measuring touchpoints fails. A recent, mind-bending survey looked at 75,000 people who had interacted with customer service in some way. The survey found that contact centers based on delighting customers are largely wasting their time and resources. This is because customers today are far more interested in an effortless, seamless (and easy) experience than anything else. The less they have to do to solve their problem, the better.
Some companies have responded to the survey’s findings in illustrative ways. When insurance giant Fidelity learned that 22 percent of repeat calls relate to problems prompted by the reason for the original call, they began suggesting next steps to online customers going through certain processes to mitigate the need for those repeat calls. For example, customers who change their addresses often come back to order new checks or need information about homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. Since enacting this policy, 25 percent of Fidelity’s self-service transactions come from “next issue” prompts and calls have dropped by five percent. Viewing the Customer Effort Score as a primary metric gauging customer experience can guide managers more accurately in retention and loyalty-building efforts.
Improving journeys with Customer Service Platforms
Fortunately, Customer Service Platforms are cost-effective solutions to improve customer experience that many companies can implement. In fact, they are rapidly becoming the norm in customer experience management across all industries–from IBM to Buffalo Wild Wings. You can read all about them in this post here. For those strapped for time, the short description is that Customer Service Platforms combine AI, bots, agent handling, and advanced analytics to:
- • Message with customers on any channel (SMS, web chat, social media, Apple Business Chat etc.)
- • Capture data from all customers’ end-to-end journeys, wrap it all up with a nice bow and provide comprehensible information whenever it’s needed.
- • Manage CSAT through constant analysis of customer sentiment mid-conversation. If things go sideways with a bot or agent, a manager can instantly jump in to take over messaging and resolve the situation.
- • Pick up on patterns and anticipate customer needs through machine learning.
The only other major component needed for a company-wide cultural shift towards customer experience lies in...
Executives spearheading campaigns to create a culture of improving customer satisfaction can start by creating explicit links between improving customer experience and economic outcomes. In one case, an Australian telecommunications provider removed productivity metrics from its reps’ performance reports. Despite a slight increase in handling time, repeat calls fell by 58 percent. Ameriprise Financial went a step further, asking its employees to record every time they have to tell a customer no. They audited all the “no’s” and changed or eliminated 26 outmoded policies, which in turn saved them $1.2 million. Of course, mountains like these only move when leadership fully commits to championing a company-wide cultural shift focused on customer care, likely involving several new initiatives.
Certainly, agents can be as gracious and charming as Ryan Gosling during each conversation with a customer. However, in nearly all cases, customers just want their issue solved quickly and quietly. It makes sense for businesses to refocus away from siloed customer satisfaction scores and towards measuring their overall satisfaction by making their entire experience easy.