Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In anticipation of March 17th, there’s been much talk about luck and chance at my house – we’re flying to Las Vegas to watch my niece compete in the Silver Dollar Circuit Quarter Horse Show. Where else can you find a hotel casino that also boasts an equestrian complex?
Sophia competes in a class called Western Pleasure that evaluates horses on their slow gait, calm manner and responsive disposition – essentially they should appear to be a ‘pleasure’ to ride. An amazing amount of training goes into appearing effortless. Meanwhile, her dad and uncle have been busy training too. After cheering on Sophia, the guys plan to slip away to the casino and test their luck at the black jack tables. Last weekend they brushed up on the rules of play, reviewed betting strategies and intend to seek out tables offering the most favorable odds.
All this preparation to reduce risk and make the difficult seem easy made me think – are too many companies relying on luck when it comes to satisfying customers?
A 2015 Wakefield Research survey revealed that the stakes are high when it comes to providing quality service. Eighty-seven percent of the 1,000 Americans surveyed reported that customer service has a significant impact on their decision to business with a company. Two-thirds said they had ended a business relationship based on a bad service experience, with more than one-third having done so more than once.
In the same study, nine out of ten consumers, of all ages, reported having used self-service systems to complete a transaction – so, if you aren’t investing in your automated systems, odds are you’re increasing the risk of dissatisfied customers. Below are three strategies to give your company an edge:
1. Be Relevant. In my head, I know I’m just one customer among millions that my bank, preferred airline, and pharmacy serve regularly. Yet in my heart, I want to be special. Companies that tailor my self-service experience – from greeting me by name to leveraging data about my billing cycle, upcoming flight or the text I just received – leave me feeling valued and earn my loyalty.
Strategy: Ensure your self-service platforms easily integrate with your front office systems, allowing you to leverage customer data to create personalized experiences that set you apart from the competition.
2. Be Effortless. I love that the Starbucks app lets me order and pay for my morning coffee from the car, three blocks away, so I can skip the line. It’s my new standard for experiences that are fast and easy – and it keeps me crossing the street, rather than patronizing the two espresso bars in my building.
Strategy: Streamline automated interactions with Natural Language technologies, empowering customers to speak or type naturally, be understood, and receive guidance to solve both simple and complex issues.
3. Be consistent. Like most consumers, my smartphone is always within reach. I am empowered to make a call, use an app, surf a website, engage in a live chat, respond to a text or send an email – whatever seems easiest in the moment. If I’m contacting a company, I expect the same relevant, effortless experience no matter which channel I use.
Strategy: Invest in solutions that offer common tooling across multiple self-service channels – e.g. across web, mobile and IVR self-service applications – so you can cost-effectively create consistent brand experiences that foster loyalty and ultimately increase the lifetime value of your customer base.
Today, I’ll be betting that Sophia’s hard work pays off in blue ribbons – she may be riding in Las Vegas, but she’s not relying on luck to put her in the winner’s circle. As for the guys – I’m going to cross my fingers and hope they don’t go bust!