We’ve all been on the receiving end of a poor customer service experience. It’s 5PM on a Friday as you sit on hold to speak to a vendor, waving goodbye to your colleagues as they leave for the weekend. But how do customer experience blunders stack up and, more importantly, which actions drive customers to leave for good?
Some recent customer service research conducted by NRG attempted to answer this question. They asked 1,000 consumers to rank the top three most impactful negative customer experiences. The results are interesting to say the least…
Some valuable insights can be deciphered from the graph above…
- Customers hate incompetent agents more than anything – If a customer reaches out, your team better have an answer or at least possess the ability to understand their concern. Unknowledgeable customer service is the bane of any business because if they don’t know what’s going on, customers can easily jump to the conclusion that nobody in your business has a clue. Take the time to train agents appropriately. This includes abolishing the tiered support model and having senior agents work directly with new employees to share their knowledge.
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- Nobody likes long wait times – Right behind not understanding the needs of a customer is failing to value their time. In the modern era of business, conversations are instantaneous and long waits are becoming more and more unacceptable. As a solution, offer omnichannel customer support (phone, email, chat, etc.) so if one channel is backed up there are other ways for people to contact you. Many companies are now using customer self-service software to help deflect tickets and let customers answer their own questions on their own time.
- Customers want to speak to a personable agent – Even with advances in technology, customers aren’t looking for a robot on the other end of the conversation. The human connection in support, especially in the B2B (business-to-business) industry, is still vital and can be leveraged to build customer trust. When hiring agents, possessing knowledge is important but so is kindness and empathy. These soft skills go a long way in making an angry customer feel better after just a few minutes. It will also help you to create a better company culture.
- Customers can become frustrated using the wrong technology – Tying back to the human touch in support, an automated phone system may sound good in theory but it can frustrate customers. This is especially true in B2B where time is literally money and "wasted" time gives the impression that you don't value your customers. To prevent this, make sure your automated system is straightforward and easy to navigate. Providing a clear path to speak to an agent can alleviate frustration and also help to reduce wait times. Offering live customer chat is another way to offer support and should also provide an easy way to speak directly (via audio or video chat) if needed. To round everything out, create an online customer self-service portal that contains all the different methods a customer can use to contact you or find information about your business. Customers like freedom and choice, so giving them multiple ways to speak directly to an actual person is a wise decision.
In short, looking at this piece of customer service research gives companies an easy outline to follow on how to prioritize customer experience initiatives . Be certain agents are personable and knowledgeable before you have them converse with customers. After this, it’s important to optimize the staffing of your agents to reduce wait times. Lastly, create a centralized location for customers to visit so they can choose how they want to contact you. Don’t let good customers slip away by not prioritizing what’s important to them and their customer experience.