What Wouldn’t Change in the Next Five Years?
Jeff Bezos is famously attributed with this statement – people usually ask you, what changes do you foresee in the next five years? Nobody ever asks you, what do you think will remain the same in the next five years?
What will remain the same in the next five years?
If ever I was asked this question, I’d say that my obsession to provide outstanding customer experiences would not change in the next five years.
What Is That One Attribute That You’d Chase to Offer Outstanding Customer Experiences?
I read an article by Shep Hyken in Hospitalitynet that began like this.
Did you get the email from our customer with a question?
I did. We will get back to them in three days.
If the customer wanted their question answered in three days, they would wait three days to ask the question.
This conversation stresses the importance of one attribute: the speed to happiness.
The speed at which you move a customer from concerned or upset to happy could be the difference between the customer coming back or not.
Shep Hyken refers to this happiness as a result of three things:
- The customer’s problem, issue, or question is resolved or answered
- The interaction is managed quickly, efficiently, and with as little friction as possible – ideally, without friction
- The exchange is handled so well that the customer wouldn’t mind going through the process again if they had to
This got me thinking. Providing happiness to customers at speed is not about delivering utter delight or joy but about taking some minor steps honestly to provide a resolution.
What does it take to improve speed to happiness in customer service?
It involves creating a more efficient and effective support process to meet customer needs quickly and satisfactorily.
Here are nine steps to achieve this.
1. Understand Customer Expectations
Understand that ASAP is not a timeline. You need to know what is acceptable for your customers.
Gather customer feedback to understand their expectations regarding resolution times and issue resolution. Conduct surveys, analyze customer complaints, and review past interactions to identify common pain points.
2. Set Clear Serie Level Agreements (SLAs)
SLAs are more for your internal teams than for your customers. Ensure it challenges your team to provide faster services without compromising the quality of service.
Define clear SLAs for response and resolution times. I’d say focus more on the response times, as that would give the necessary reassurances to your customers.
Keep customers informed about the status of their requests, even if there are no updates. Set expectations for when they can expect a resolution and follow up to ensure satisfaction.
Also, ensure that SLAs are realistic and based on customer expectations.
3. Implement Omnichannel Support
Ensure you are present in all your customers’ preferred channels – phone, email, chat, mobile apps, website, social media, and self-service options.
Integrate all the channels where you are present for your customer interactions to be seamless across all channels. Besides, it would offer your customer support personnel a single view of your customers across all channels.
4. Streamline Ticketing and Case Management
Use a robust helpdesk software to track and manage customer inquiries efficiently. Assign tickets to appropriate agents or teams based on their expertise, workload, or priority.
Categorize customer inquiries based on urgency and complexity. Prioritize high-impact and time-sensitive issues, ensuring they receive immediate attention.
5. Self-Service Is the Way to Go
Over 50% of your customer requests are routine, mundane, and repetitive. You don’t really need a human agent to address those queries.
Use self-service options like FAQs, knowledge base, or conversational bots to handle common requests with an ability for your customers to reach live agents easily anytime during the interaction.
6. Empower Your Customer Service Teams
Empower your customer service teams to make decisions and resolve issues in your customer’s favor without constant approval.
Allow discretionary spending to a particular value for your agents to do things in favor of the customers. For instance, Ritz Carlton allows a discretionary spend of $2000 to all its employees as long as they spend it to benefit the customers.
Besides, invest in ongoing training for your customer service agents to enhance their skills and product knowledge.
7. Monitor and Analyze Performance
Continuously monitor key performance metrics, such as response time, resolution time, customer satisfaction scores (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), and customer churn rate.
These metrics would allow you to analyze data to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement.
8. Encourage Customer Feedback
Create mechanisms for customers to provide feedback on their service experiences. Use this feedback to make necessary adjustments and show customers their opinions matter.
9. Regularly Reassess and Adapt
Customer expectations and business conditions change over time. Periodically revisit your customer service strategy and adapt it to meet evolving needs.
These nine steps can help you improve the speed to happiness in customer service, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Remember, excellence in customer service is an ongoing process that requires continuous refinement and adaptation.
The speed in customer service helps you fix the customer and not just the problems. Once there is agility, your customers will always want to return to you.