The ripple effect of inconsistent service quality.
Call it the Amazon Effect, instant gratification, or maybe just plain old impatience. Thanks to the breakneck speed of internet growth over the past decade, we all have greater expectations and shorter attention spans. When something goes wrong and a customer needs help, they expect to be able to get it quickly, and if they can’t, their issue can quickly go from molehill to mountain. Compound a customer’s issue with a self-service website experience that dead-ends, necessitating a call to a contact center, where ineffective automation leads to a longer-than-usual wait time, just to deal with an agent who has to start at ground zero in order to address the issue, with no idea of what the customer has been through…well, if you got to the end of this sentence, you can probably feel your patience waning too! In this year of operational efficiency, brands are starting to feel the friction that limited resources and increased customer service needs can put on their contact center operations, and more importantly, their customer relationships.
Inconsistent service quality undermines the efforts that a brand has made to get where it is. Deteriorating customer service often starts slowly, causing gradual weaknesses in operations that get tended to with band-aid solutions, quietly eroding the strength of a brand’s reputation, and eventually, its customer relationships. No brand wants to lose customers; focusing on retaining existing customers has been shown to increase profitability by 25% to a whopping 95%. Customer relationships are the engine powering the majority of any brand’s revenue, so their loss is a direct hit to a company’s bottom line.
Increasingly, the relationship between customers and brands is emotional; customers want to be able to trust the brands they love, and consistent customer service shows them that they matter. When a company doesn’t invest enough in designing and delivering a consistent, efficient experience customers notice, and with the prevalence of social media use, they often make their loss of trust public, further eroding a brand’s reputation (even if a motivated marketing team manages the situation.)
And if that crack marketing team does get the situation under control, it costs the brand. Potential customers might be put off dealing with the brand after witnessing service inconsistencies in real-time, and formerly satisfied customers might become disenchanted and start looking at competitors who prioritize the kind of service that they want (or used to get!) Inevitably a brand will spend more money putting out customer service fires than it would’ve allocated to ensuring consistent customer service, and without immediate efforts to improve customer service consistency, this trickling financial loss could burst the budget.
There is one other key consideration in this scenario, and that is the agents themselves. Creating an excellent customer experience is your agents’ top priority, and should be their primary focus. When a brand underinvests in supporting consistent service quality, the agents are the first to bear the brunt of the impact, from dealing with the challenges of customer frustration to managing ever-increasing workloads in a stressed-out, uninviting workplace. The agent tries to do their best for customers with dwindling time and resources, but this eventually takes its toll, leading to burnout, and very likely, defection. Coupled with losing customers, it is this loss that costs a brand the most. Losing experienced agents is a blow to customer experience and workplace culture, but it is an even bigger hit to revenue; on average, it costs a company between $10,000 and $20,000 to hire, train and onboard a new agent, not to mention the time that process takes, or the potential of CX inconsistencies that are inherent to a new agent learning the ropes of the brand’s customer service standards.
The secret to lessening the effect of inconsistent customer service is no secret at all: put the focus back on creating and maintaining customer relationships. It’s that simple. Now, we’re not saying it’s going to be easy; if your brand’s contact center service has been slipping, it will require some focus and investment to get consistency and excellence back on track. Here are three tips to get your contact center to build consistent service quality.
1. Using contact center data and voice-of-customer feedback as a guide, optimize customer-facing channels to improve the useability and flow of self-service customer experience. Ensure that contact center agents have an accurate view of the customer’s history and journey when they connect so that they can offer personalized help quickly.
2. Level-up your agent training and operational procedures to better align with the brand’s business goals and persona. Establish standard operating procedures through regular training opportunities so that agents can confidently deliver brand-appropriate, consistent quality service that customers can trust.
3. In this age of AI-enhanced customer service solutions, find a good balance between agents and automation. AI-assisted, human-focused contact centers maximize the best of both approaches; automation can improve customer self-service options, wait times and follow-up, while assisting agents with workflow and caseload, giving them more support and time to focus on the true priority: the customer relationship.
By building value and consistency in every step of the customer service journey, contact centers can develop trust and loyalty in their customers, resulting in better revenue in the future. When a brand is sure that its customers are as invested in their relationship as they are, they can consistently plan and serve to strengthen that bond, creating customers for life.
bespokeCX gives contact center teams the framework, tools and perspective to deliver consistent customer experience while supporting stronger workplace culture. By maximizing operational alignment and agent impact, bespokeCX can help your brand improve its reputation and revenue through consistent contact center performance, creating the kind of customer experience that deepens relationships. Visit www.bespokecx.com to learn more.