What Makes Your Blood Boil?

Has a customer service experience ever made you want to scream?  You’re not alone.  As consumers, we have high expectations for the companies we invest our money in. And when they fail on service, send us through migraine-inducing communications loops and waste our time, we’re frustrated and disappointed and we want to take action.  
Technology has made it easier than ever to yell it loud from the digital mountaintops – to vent our complaints with friends, post our experience on Twitter or defame a brand on its own Facebook page.  With the bullhorn of social networks, one bad experience can make a big impact.  Just ask United Airlines about how they handle guitars.
Poor customer service is a lose-lose situation. Not only does it hurt consumers, but companies who cross the line get buried in an avalanche of negative opinions, and that brand hit can take years to recover.  Beyond that, there are so many lost opportunities for companies who are fine, or even good, at customer service, to be great.  They need to understand the impact of customer behaviour and interactions on critical business drivers like attrition, profitability and loyalty.
We carry those stories with us, and we share them with others, like this consumer who told us: “The customer service was so bad and the charges were so outrageous that I cancelled my contract and from this day still tell people about it. This happened seven years ago. That is how much I can’t stand them.”

It’s time for companies to take a much harder look at how they’re handling customer interactions and customer service, and figure out how to not only keep customers from wanting to paint-bomb their headquarters, but actually get their customers to love them. At ClickFox, we recently conducted an online survey to ask consumers what customer service issues frustrate them most.  That showed that the top three issues are:

  1. Having to speak with multiple agents and starting over every time (41 per cent of respondents)
  2. Rude and inexperienced representatives or service technicians (13 per cent of respondents)
  3. Being kept on hold for long periods of time (9.3 per cent of respondents)

The remaining 36.7 per cent of consumers noted frustration in not getting what they need on the first try, not being understood by speech recognition applications, surprise fee/price increases, frequent service interruptions or disruptions, difficulty logging in or navigating a website and long windows of time waiting for a service representative.  
These frustrations not only impact our mood and general opinion of the brand, they also have a profound impact on the company and its bottom line. Our survey also asked consumers how they react to a negative customer service experience, and the most common reactions were to:  ask for a manager (54.4 per cent), tell a friend/family member/peer (51.8 per cent), cease any business with the company (39.7 per cent), submit a negative customer satisfaction survey (24.4 per cent), post comments on social networking sites or consumer review sites (20.6 per cent), and/or write a letter of complaint (18.1 per cent). organisations are directly impacted by these reactions as they face increased operations costs, lost revenue and severe brand damage.

There is a high correlation between customer service and customer loyalty. Granted, a customer’s propensity to leave a company may vary based on the complexity and effort involved to switch to a competitor; however, it can be very telling in industries like telecom and banking where a customer would rather take the hit of a cancelation fee or penalty than remain a customer. One consumer told us, “I left while my contract was still in effect and paid the fee to move to a different carrier.”
While most organisations know when they aren’t doing a great job of servicing customers, and are even working to make improvements, almost none are actually analysing the direct impact of customer interactions and service experiences on actual business outcomes. They understand that they need to address low customer satisfaction scores, but they typically don’t have insight into what events and behaviours drive dissatisfaction. They need to take a holistic view of their customers as individuals, not split personalities as seen through the silos of different data centres, depending on whether the interaction was online or over the phone.  

The technology is available today to bring it all together and do this right.  Companies who care – and companies who are smart about growth – will figure out how to better understand their customers and transform that customer hate into love and reach the best goal of all: the long term happy relationship.

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