In this guest post, Alok Kulkarni (pictured below), CEO and co-founder of Cyara, says don’t reject your disgruntled customers, rather embrace them for the wealth of data and knowledge they can bring a brand…
Poor customer service has long been touted as a challenge for Aussie businesses. Without naming names, we’ve seen telcos, airlines and retailers all repeatedly experience issues. Over the last 16 months alone, the role customer service plays has been exacerbated by Covid-19 and contact centres have been pushed onto the front line.
More than half (54 per cent) of consumers report at least one negative customer experience (CX) in a single month. Companies that regularly interact with the public, such as retailers, banks, and internet service providers are more prone to customer complaints and inquiries. The pressure is now on, with poor customer experience in Australia costing businesses an estimated $122 billion a year.
Today’s reality is that contact centres have become a magnet for customer complaints. Many businesses sweep negative reactions under the carpet or attempt to distract consumers with flashy marketing campaigns. Others see it as an opportunity to listen, learn and turn an angry customer into a brand evangelist.
Angry customers provide feedback that money can’t buy
Customers don’t just wake up angry. Usually they can recite – in granular detail – the failings and frustrations they’ve experienced over a period. As painful as it is to hear, these customers present brands with brutally honest feedback – often providing tangible avenues towards enhanced CX. Listening to customers and understanding how they have been affected gives leaders a better understanding of processes, policies, and culture that aren’t working. Don’t forget, if one customer is being negatively impacted, it’s likely others are too.
The ability to approach criticism with an open mind can be the toughest step for companies. Eating humble pie isn’t easy. Organisations that welcome feedback, especially criticism, must be able to separate ego and emotion from what’s best for the business’ bottom line. Only then can customer feedback be leveraged for meaningful change – regardless of whether it’s for initiatives focused on revenue, customer retention, or expansion.
Put the human touch back into customer service
A study from Accenture found that human interaction remains a vital component of customer satisfaction, even in the digital age. Eight in ten Australian consumers prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues and get advice. Nearly half (48 per cent) say they are even willing to pay a higher price for goods and services if it ensures a more enjoyable experience.
The human element in the customer service journey represents a unique link between customer and company that shapes loyalty and satisfaction. It’s that human connection that can help overcome a bad experience in the moment by demonstrating compassion and resolving the issue in a way that technology simply can’t.
Taking failings and frustrations seriously
The pandemic has changed the way we communicate and how we value our time. Regardless of who your customer is, be sure to reach back out to acknowledge their feedback and open lines of communication. Show compassion and a willingness to get to the bottom of their dissatisfaction by offering a video call. Virtual meetings can easily be scheduled across borders and time zones. This advice extends to leadership – company bosses can no longer hide behind closed doors; the pandemic has levelled the playing field.
By embracing this path, customers see a company’s willingness to listen to their grievances – demonstrating that they are valued. It provides an opportunity to show empathy in an otherwise emotionally charged situation and can help turn negative experiences positive.
Insights gleaned from customers are gold dust to customer service teams. Issues that otherwise go undetected for weeks or months can be uncovered and addressed the same day. By personally speaking to customers, brands are letting them know their feedback and frustrations are being taken seriously. In some cases that is all customers want.
Harnessing the power of feedback
A business cannot exist without customers, which is why CX needs to be a top priority. Great customer experiences can help companies win business, stand out in the crowd, build a reputation and develop long-term relationships.
But, what constitutes a good CX is not the same for every customer, and unfortunately customer complaints come with the territory. How a company handles negative feedback is the key to proactively improving service, pre-empting and resolving similar issues, earning customer trust, and building brand loyalty. The first step towards achieving all of this is simply having awareness.
How are you using customer complaints to improve your CX?
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