Chinese Whispers: Are you really listening to your customers?
Have you heard the tragic story about an order going down the line during a World War I, when Britain still had the old non-decimalised money?
It goes like this: A Major, sat in one of the trenches, shouted to his subordinate to pass on the following message to High Command: "Send reinforcements, we're going to advance..." By the end of a string of repeated orders down the line, High Command was somewhat perplexed when an underling walked into his office and said: "Message from the Front, Sir. It's an unusual request. Apparently we're to bring three and four pence, we're going to a dance."
How often do we just fill in the gaps in a business, especially when we are busy? We are often so convinced that we hear our customers, and understand what they need from us. But then we are shocked when our customer service strategy, based upon this knowledge, fails. According to the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) though, customers are a lot less happy with their customer experience now, than in January 2011, during the UK recession
Bite the bullet
86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience, but only 1% feel that brands consistently meet their expectations.* * Forbes, 2013, "Customer Experience: Is it the Chicken or Egg?"
In order to fulfil customer service expectations it is crucial to understand what exactly customers expect from a brand and in particular the communication channels they prefer to use should problems or questions arise. Technology has changed customer expectations and customer experience can no longer be sacrificed for the convenience of the brand.
Consumers have become impatient and weary of the time that they are willing to wait to get answers or have their problems solved. Sharp-shooters on smart-phones, tablets and on social networks, customers are now in control of a brand’s fate.
So what is the plan of attack to retain and attract customers? Recognising that being competitive is no longer enough, brands also have to be relevant, deliver great customer service experience in a 24/7 access to information, anywhere on any device world without tightening the belt on already stressed finances.