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Adapting Customer Service to Changing Expectations

Customer satisfaction is a primary goal for any successful business, but keeping customers happy – truly happy – is a lot harder than including the obligatory mention of ‘customer focus’ in your mission statement. In an age when customers have a broad choice of products, earning a customer’s loyalty has never been so challenging.

Expectations for what is “good” customer service are evolving. Younger consumers – the twenty-somethings – expect speedy, convenient service. Their expectations are very different from their parents and grandparents who have long held the majority of the buying power.

 

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Changing Expectations

Different generations have different expectations for customer service,” says Clinton Fitch, senior product manager for ShoreTel Contact Center.  Baby Boomer defines customer service as the ability to get his question answered or product ordered in a reasonable amount of time, but Gen Y has an attitude that you should know their problem before they call you.

The challenge, says Fitch, is that nowhere in the job description of a call center agent is mind reader.

Not only do Millennials want their issues resolved as fast as possible, but they want to use whatever form of communication is most convenient at the moment. That may be a mobile phone, email, Facebook or Twitter, and they expect your contact center to know who they are, no matter how or when they make contact.

And twenty-somethings take immediate action at the perception of mediocre or bad service. If the company doesn’t answer the question within two minutes, or whatever the Gen Y customer defines as an appropriate amount of time, they will lambaste your company in social media and move on to the next company, says Fitch.

Know Your Customer

Many businesses find it challenging to tailor service to the ideals of multiple generations of customers. Fitch urges business owners to understand their consumer base and who is buying their product or service.

“Organizations need to take the time to figure out who their consumer really is”, says Fitch. They can shape their customer service policy around the generation they deal with most at that moment in time. That plan should be revisited every three to five years.

Multichannel Communications

A company that traditionally dealt with customers who are Baby Boomers or the Greatest Generation may be able to make some assumptions about preferred channels of communications, but remember, these days even senior citizens have taken to the convenience of texting.

These days, customers of all ages want to make their purchase or get an issue resolved using multiple modes of communications. The challenge for the contact center is that the goal is still first-call resolution, when in fact the call may be a tweet. Contact center solutions, including ShoreTel Contact Center, incorporate social media streams into the workflow.

Acceptable response times should be set for different communications modes. Customers generally expect that their phone call will be answered in less than five minutes and that an email will get a response within a day. But acceptable response times for new modes of communication, such as Twitter, are a moving target.

“It is incumbent on the organization to set the proper expectations with their customers and agents as to how quickly they respond”, says Fitch. But it can be challenging from a speed perspective.

Changing customer expectations for service also means that contact centers may need to step up the capabilities of their agents on the front line. Businesses need to make an investment in services and tools to help their agents be more knowledgeable or give the appearance that they’re knowledgeable. Knowledgebases or wikis can help agents make that first interaction more fruitful and complete.

Want to know more? contact me at revans@ecitech.ca We are here to help.

 

Richard Evans

Empire Communications