Last month, the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index was released. A bi-yearly national measure of customer satisfaction, the index draws on 42,500 individual customer experiences to benchmark customer sentiment among UK consumers across 13 sectors of the economy.
The latest results are heartening for consumers and businesses alike. The past 12 months have seen brands stepping up their CX strategy to place customers at the heart of the organisation; and this renewed focus on customer experience means that businesses are now reaping the fruits of their labour. Customer satisfaction has increased by 0.8 points (out of an overall score of ten) since the same time last year, and is now at its highest point since July 2013. Trust in UK organisations has also improved, and satisfaction with complaint handling has shot up.
But despite the good news, the index suggests that customer effort has increased. That means that consumers are finding it harder to get what they want, whether that’s because of a lack of channel choice or access to agents. And it has potential knock-on effects: customers’ likelihood to recommend brands has fallen slightly.
While businesses are certainly working hard to build customer satisfaction, there is more they need to do if they are to increase their score next time. So how can brands help reduce customer effort, and get closer to achieving the elusive perfect ten when it comes to customer experience?
Make your customers’ experiences easier
Omnichannel technology means that customers now have more channels available to get in touch with brands than ever before. However, omnichannel customer experience is still a relatively new concept – and it certainly has its teething problems.
The rise of omnichannel also means the rise of channel bounce, where a customer is shunted from agent to agent and channel to channel until their problem is resolved. To an already frustrated customer, having to repeat themselves again and again will add fuel to the fire, and could risk damaging their relationship with a brand.
However, the rise in technology has opened up new opportunities for businesses looking to fine tune their omnichannel structure. Brands can do this by introducing greater data capture opportunities, which will give agents a better log of previous client interactions they can refer back to – instead of asking them the same questions customers have heard countless times before.
It’s also important that agents are empowered to resolve a customer’s problem quickly and efficiently, no matter the channel. Key to reducing this is equipping agents with the tools they need to find solutions for each and every customer – such as access to the right information, where appropriate, without having to go through their superiors.
But perhaps the most important factor to making your customer’s experiences easier is ensuring consumers can speak to someone when they want to, whatever the channel. At its core, customer service depends on being able to promptly address a problem with an expert, without having to spend 20 minutes going through an automated process on the phone, or waiting hours for a reply on web chat.
Understand the context of your customer’s relationship with your business
Data is increasingly being used to manage day-to-day customer interactions; but it can also feed into business intelligence and help to refine processes.
This means that brands can now draw directly on customer insights as a barometer to gauge the efficacy of their own processes. For example, using speech and text analytics software across calls can help to plot customer frustration or satisfaction. Similarly, brands using social media sentiment tracking to measure how brands perceive and interact with them, gives these businesses unprecedented access to real customer insight. Interpreting this data allows brands to take informed steps to improve engagement – improving resolution rates and boosting satisfaction.
Prioritising customer satisfaction means prioritising employee engagement
Every interaction a consumer has with a brand will impact their perception of it – and the chances of them engaging with them in the future. Facing fierce competition, brands invest significant time, money and resource building a band customers love – so it’s important they don’t throw this away when dealing with customers directly.
While more and more businesses are prioritising customer satisfaction, it’s important they take a step back to look at the factors within the organisation that will help them achieve this. That’s why we urge employers to make sure that their workforce is skilled, engaged and rewarded, because we know that happy and motivated employers make for satisfied customers.
By creating a culture where those dealing daily with customers are empowered, motivated and highly skilled, companies will have a greater chance of delivering the best possible customer experience.
Firstsource, a RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group company is a customer experience expert and global provider of customised BPM (Business Process Management). Firstsource partners with brands including FTSE 100, Fortune 500 and Nifty 50 companies in the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance, Healthcare, Telecommunications and Media sectors. We operate in India, the Philippines, the UK and the US.
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