29 Oct Solving the hidden customer service crisis
Customer service is not just essential for retaining customers; smart companies realize a powerful fundamental shift has happened in how consumers interact with them. No longer can you guide the new digital customer’s experience through a sales or conversion funnel; he is now involved across multiple channels and on his terms. This is why Gartner believes that in 2016, 89% of the companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. Customer service is now at the heart of remaining competitive and not just another budget head whose funding you question at the annual review.
For every customer complaint there are over 25 unhappy customers who have not complained. Of these over 90% will leave and never come back. At the same time Bain reports that a 10% increase in customer retention increases a company’s value by 30%!
But identifying customers at risk of churn can take time, time most companies do not have. You can literally cut churn in half by identifying the customers at risk early. Proactive complaint management thus is the single most powerful customer service area to focus on that directly impacts a company’s ability to compete, retain customers, build loyalty and add shareholder value. And though people have talked about using customer service as a differentiator for decades (As recently as 2010 Forrester reported 80% of the companies wanted to use it for this reason) they are simply not doing it. Large companies start getting used to allocating funds based on easily quantifiable ROI. So this area which until recently lacked the technology and analytics to stake its claim has remained under focused. They’ve got a customer service crisis on their hands and they don’t know it because they and their competitors have achieved an inefficient mean.
To us this speaks of a massive opportunity. As your competitors worry about reducing expenses related to customer service as they’re asked to do more with less, you could be setting the groundwork to eat their lunch.
Not only is proactive customer service the smart thing to do, it also reduces costs as it eliminates costlier reactive customer service measures and drops in loyalty. Even if you serve a customer excellently who has an unresolved customer service issue, his loyalty will usually not come back. Here’s what we recommend:
- Have data where the digital customer will look for it: Customers are very involved. They read FAQ, they can scan repositories of data. Make sure all your digital assets namely websites and social media channels contain information that based on your previous customer service analysis addresses most of their problems. In our experience questions customers would have during onboarding and FAQ’s around usage of product and services are a great start.
- Use sequential analytics: This is best way of identifying up to 75% customers at risk of leaving with as little as 2 weeks of data. Sequential data uses data and matches it with behavior for deeper analysis. For example a customer had a call center call. When you match that with their usage pattern and see that their usage dropped it means an unresolved issue and a serious churn risk factor. Sequential analytics and software that enables this is key to near real time customer churn identification.
- Be proactive by knowing your customer even better: Analyze your customer service data to see why you get calls. When you know areas of interest to your customer, be proactive about them. Banking customers often call related to bank balance. Online banking will tell them their bank balance esp as its linked with SMS. But what about when they are at risk for higher than normal charges? For example for when their bank balance falls below a certain amount? Reaching out when customers are at risk of higher charges than anticipated is a great customer loyalty ploy. Telecom calls are often about higher bills yet very few telecom companies in emerging markets proactively SMS you to tell you that your bill is already 25% above your 6 monthly average. In fact let’s go beyond that. Telecom mobile packages are a mess. No one really knows what package is best for him or her. If Telecoms proactively based on usage tell you that switching to this package will actually save you money, they’ve dramatically improved customer loyalty. Whatever revenue they leave on the table with this behavior is more than made up for by the reduction in churn.
Don’t be wise after the fact. Be proactive and be smart about being proactive to turn the hidden customer service crisis into a competitive advantage.