Every time any representative of a firm has a contact with a customer, it is an opportunity to build brand image, build customer satisfaction and cement a long-term relationship. This is true whether it is an in-person contact or a phone call.
“All customer service requires a three-pronged approach,” says Steve Boyazis, senior vice president of sales and new business development at InfoCision Management Corp., Akron. “First, you have to select the right people to put in front of your clients. Second, you have to train them on not only your company and products but also your history, philosophy, and softer skills like dispute resolution and dealing with difficult people. Finally, you have to monitor how people are doing and both provide instant feedback and share best practices.”
Smart Business asked Boyazis how to assure a customer has a great experience.
How do you properly train a CSR to handle customer calls promptly and with the appropriate tone?
Start the interview process when someone calls in to set a time for an interview. Look for style, tone, follow-through, etc. Then take everyone through a 30-day training process to learn not only how to make a quality client presentation, but also indoctrinate them in company culture. Finally, have a 120-point quality checklist that measures both the soft and hard details of the client engagement, and provide regular feedback and coaching to get everyone up to par.
But ultimately it’s all in the environment you create, goals you set and commitment you make to put the best people in the best roles. The art is either getting everyone up to par or routing calls to those people best able to handle the specific issues at hand. CSRs who can do both are in great shape.
What is the value of customer satisfaction?
I’ve not seen a lot of research that quantitatively ties brand image to client satisfaction and specifically how each client interaction drives this perception. But I have seen a lot about how many things impact brand awareness like advertising and product quality. Always at the top of that list is that one of the biggest opportunities to both create and destroy company brand comes on those few occasions when a customer interacts directly with the company. That moment in time can make or break a relationship.
What do you look at when pursuing customer satisfaction?
We recently did a study for a client (who sold a product with monthly renewals) about the impact of its customer satisfaction on the long-term value of that client and the results bore this out.
Specifically, the research looked at three common aspects of every customer-care call. (1) Did the clients call get answered? (2) Did the client feel his or her call was dealt with appropriately? (3) Were concerns and/or issues handled quickly and efficiently? These three same factors apply whether you are answering a call, sending out a service tech, or ringing up a sale at a cash register.
What were the results?
Here’s what we found. When a customer’s call went unanswered, that customer stopped purchasing 4 percent earlier.
When a customer scored his or her call experience at 79 percent or less (done through an end-of-call satisfaction survey), he or she stopped purchasing 6 percent earlier.
When a customer failed to get a problem resolved quickly, he or she stopped purchasing 12 percent earlier.
Does 4 percent or 6 percent really make a difference?
These may sound like small numbers, but when you improve all three areas, including client satisfaction, first-call resolutions and drop the abandoned call rate (that is, the numbers drop from 6 percent to, say, 3 percent), overall satisfaction jumps significantly.
Factor in an average lifetime customer value of just a few hundred dollars and the numbers show that this client saved more than $1.5 million by actively providing a great customer experience.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. This type of great client experience also leads to more referrals, better opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell, and shorter calls that make everything more efficient.
STEVE BOYAZIS is senior vice president-of sales and new business development at InfoCision Management Corp., Akron. Founded in 1982, InfoCision is a privately held teleservice company and is a leading provider of inbound and outbound marketing for nonprofit, commercial, religious and political organizations. Reach Boyazis at Steve.email@example.com or (330) 670-5877.