Is there any excuse for poor customer service in 2018?
A long legacy of excellent customer service means nothing when the level of service begins to decline. Even the smallest lapse can cause loyal customers to take their business elsewhere. I am one such customer.
Recently, a business I had been dealing with for years began to fall short of my most basic customer service expectations – to call me back at an allocated time. My request was ‘lost in the system’ and as a result, they lost my business, says Richard McCrossan, head of digital EMEA at Genesys.
Consumers deserve better!
We have entered the age of digital transformation and, with customer experience at the heart of digital transformation, business can – and really should – be doing so much better. In its essence, digital transformation is the pursuit to understand the customer.
This was summed up perfectly by a recent LinkedIn post:
- “Amazon did not kill the retail industry. They did it to themselves with bad customer service.
- Netflix did not kill Blockbuster. They did it to themselves with ridiculous late fees.
- Uber did not kill the taxi business. They did it to themselves with the limited number of taxis and fare control.
- Apple did not kill the music industry. They did it to themselves by forcing people to buy full-length albums.
- Airbnb did not kill the hotel industry. They did it to themselves with limited availability and pricing options.
- Technology by itself is not the real disruptor. Being non-customer centric is the biggest threat to any business.”
While there has been some debate around these assertions, the general theme is spot on and the last line sums up nicely what many businesses are getting wrong today: Every business needs to constantly re-evaluate how customer-centric it is. Even ourselves in Genesys – Amazon has entered our market now. If we remain customer centric, Amazon may challenge us, but we will continue to thrive.
In my case, my supplier was not customer centric in a couple of key ways. They did not keep a promise. They promised to call me back on a certain phone number at a certain time. They did not. Their chat and voice teams are not connected. When I contacted them via chat to ask what happened to my call back, they admitted the error but were not able to re-arrange another call back because “I’m in the chat team; I cannot arrange call backs”.
Today, both of these are easily solved with technology. Digital brands do it by default but all brands need to ensure these basic customer-centric needs are met.
I will say that this was not a digitally-born company. Businesses born in the digital age have a different DNA than companies that have been around a lot longer. Their DNA is digital, easy, and frictionless. However, brands that pre-date the digital age have a much greater advantage that they squander by not getting the basics right.
Businesses today are under constant pressure to innovate and differentiate with digital technology. However, consumers just want brands to answer their questions in the easiest way possible – with minimal effort; no matter how they ask it. I believe the solution is omnichannel with a laser-sharp focus on personalised customer journeys.
Take Amazon, for example. The company individualises the retail experience and predicts its customers’ needs and desires. At the same time, it curates the shopper’s experience via customer reviews, stripping out customers’ needs to suffer the poor product offerings and dodgy customer service in bricks and mortar shops.
Or, consider Netflix. It certainly did not kill Blockbuster’s success. Blockbuster simply didn’t put the customer first. And, let’s not forget Blockbuster once passed up a chance to buy Netflix for a paltry $50 million (€42.59 million) – and the very idea for Netflix came from a $40(€34.07) late fee on a DVD from a Blockbuster store.
In this day and age every brand should constantly reassess how customer centric it is. Asking what customers want and routinely checking that their needs are being met must be a constant process for any business. It boils down to the customers’ basic human desires, for clear, easy and engaging communication and the superhuman provision of what they want, before they want it.
Today, consumers expect a hyper-personalised experience. They expect companies to know them, understand their preferences, and be available to them how and when they want to interact. And, they expect businesses to get the basics right – like returning a simple phone call as promised. To give customers the kind of experience they want, organisations will have to deliver a true digitally-connected omnichannel customer experience.
The author of this blog is Richard McCrossan head of digital EMEA at Genesys