Photo: Lindsey Oaks
Hell hath no fury like an enraged customer. Your good work attracting right-fit clients can go out the door if your customer service people are not good.
“It’s harder to find, and keep, good customer service people,” says customer relations expert Melissa Copeland. “Companies turn increasingly to cheaper AI help to answer customer questions. The wrong choice of bot, the wrong time to use one, or the wrong transition from bot to human, has a sneaky way of turning customer questions into customer rage.”
Customer service is one of the industries that’s been hardest hit by The Great Resignation. But replacing human beings with robots might be hurting your bottom line.
Customer rage can turn into a vicious downward revenue spiral. The company loses customers, revenue declines. The customers who remain are angrier; the agents who remain deal with the brunt of anger. Morale declines. Job churn intensifies.
“With this many plates spinning, the customer service leader’s ability to delight customers and empower employees may come to seem like an impossible dream.
The Great Resignation may be specific to our time, but Copeland believes that the “quiet quitting” trend is nothing new.
“From my perspective, the phrase ‘quiet quitting’ involves a built-in assumption that everyone is engaged and wants to get ahead,” says Copeland. “This isn’t true, and it never has been.”
From Copeland’s vantage point, for most people, work is work. In the last 20 years, Copeland and her team at Blue Orbit have worked with dozens of Fortune 500 organizations and smaller startups to deliver dramatic improvements in customer-centered experience. She is arguably America’s top contact center expert. Her clients often achieve benefits in excess of 10X their investment.
“So, the big deal about ‘quiet quitting’ strikes me as a bit silly,” says Copeland. “Lots of people go to work because there’s compensation, a pleasant environment, and even some job satisfaction. But that doesn’t mean they are going above and beyond. Organizations have to earn this, and empower their employees at each step, with good tools and ongoing training to create authentic engagement.”
The combination of changing customer habits (driven by the pandemic), the labor shortage and sky-rocketing attrition, and the ever-expanding myriad of technology applications providing AI-driven solutions all work together to create a world in which customers get stuck in self-service rather than real service.
The bad news data is truly troubling:
“We all know customers expect speedy solutions, but some may be surprised by just how dramatically lost time affects your organization. Per a study published on InMoment.com, 20% of customers will not buy—or buy again—from an organization that takes minutes to answer. Another 25% will not buy if it takes hours to get an answer.”
In other words, if you’re slow, almost half the people who try to get in touch will never be your customer. Also 50% of customers who experience poor customer service will never reach back out to a company again. Plus 25% will not recommend the organization to their friends and colleagues (Source: article on REVE Chat’s website, “10 Most Common Customer Service Problems and How to Resolve Them”). “Existing customers lose trust, and you lose potential brand ambassadors,” says Copeland.
But then, there is good news:
A complaining customer handled proactively will go on to spend more on purchases in the future (Source: article on Harvard Business review’s website, “How Customer Service Can Turn Angry Customers into Loyal Ones”). This was my experience when Marriott International was a client (for full disclosure, I own a small amount of Marriott International stock). At Marriott hotels and restaurants we found if your employees are empowered to go that extra mile—and do it quickly—many customers will share that story publicly. Those who complained and had their problems fixed became Marriott’s most profitable customers.
“Your agents need the tools to solve your customer’s problems, and they need your trust and training to make the decision,” says Copeland.
Faster service, or better service? You can’t always do both. The smart company leader gives the agent a “North Star” for service (“Your goal is customer delight”) “If the agent has the correct tools and training to meet this aim, everybody wins,” says Copeland. She contends that the factor that makes an astounding difference is truly empowered, engaged employees—those who have the proper information easily accessible, and the power to make good choices for both themselves and the customers.
“As good as some of today’s customer service AI solutions truly are, the customer service agent’s ability to aid the customer quickly and effectively has enormous influence in customer retention,” said Copeland.