There are many factors that go into good customer service, none of them secrets. Yet, all too often, the simple things fall by the wayside creating unsatisfied customers and additional work to repair ill will and retain the customers. Among the seemingly simplest strategies – yet one I find often is not practiced – is information consistency. Consider the difficulties that can arise when customers are provided different information regarding the same question or problem.
I was headed to the airport early one morning recently, when I stopped at a local branch of a national banking institution for some cash, only to have the ATM eat my card. Under normal circumstances, the situation would have been easily remedied by entering the branch and having a temporary new card issued and a permanent card mailed to my home – 4:45 a.m. is not normal circumstances.
So, upon the machine not giving up my card – nor did it offer up an opportunity to receive cash – I noticed a number to dial for security issues, and figured this was as good as any option at this point. It wasn’t the correct number, but the agent was able to direct me to the right call center, where an agent, unfortunately, told me I was out of luck, that the machine would reboot on its own, but wouldn’t return my card.
However, she was able to let me know that any of their branches in Chicago – anywhere in the country outside of California, in fact – would be able to issue me a new temporary card and have a permanent one mailed. In fact, I was told they would be able to overnight one to my hotel in Los Angeles for the next day. It was about as good a resolution as I could have hoped for, since there was a full-service branch less than one mile from the building to which I was headed.
I got the flight, believing by the time I reached the client’s offices, my situation would be resolved.
Alas, when I arrived at the branch office just outside the Windy City, I was told that, because my account was not opened in the state of Illinois, all they could do was initiate the process to have a new one sent to me at home – not even overnight one to my hotel for the next day. This was much less convenient than what I had been originally told and, while I was able to get cash from the bank, it had me asking why there was such inconsistency in the details I received from two different agents.
Certainly one factor might be the agent on the phone did what she had to in order to get me off the phone with a positive outlook. While that was true, she did little to increase my confidence in the bank’s ability to resolve issues. On a broader level, it also brought me back to a conversation I had recently at Interop (News - Alert) with Patrick Botz, director of marketing at VPI, regarding how critical consistency of communication can be, and how technology can be used to drive it across points of customer contact.
Specifically, analytics engines – certainly speech analytics, but even more importantly, desktop analytics – can provide valuable insight into drivers of FCR, customer satisfaction, and successful cross- and upselling. By tracking the applications agents access during interactions, words, data, and events can be tagged and categorized, and complex analytics engines can be leveraged to define patterns that result on both successful and unsuccessful interactions.
For instance, Botz explained that one VPI client was able to determine the six most successful tactics and turn them into a set of best practices to be followed by all agents, resulting in a significant increase in sales and customer satisfaction. In fact, he noted that the VPI’s analytics capabilities are driving nearly every sale for the company currently.
By understanding which activities and language is most likely to result in positive customer interactions, businesses are able to create consistent messaging across their organizations for each scenario – and develop new best practices when new situations arise.
I’m not trying to fool myself into thinking my own situation could have necessarily been resolved differently than it eventually played out, but had I been provided accurate information at the outset, I would undoubtedly not have been left with such a negative impression of the competency of the customer support staff.
And that’s what it’s really about. No reasonable customer is going to expect that every situation can be immediately fully rectified, but they should have a reasonable expectation that the information they receive regarding resolution is going to be accurate. To me, that’s as much a measure of quality customer service as anything. CIS
Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.