Many, if not most, companies believe they understand their customers. They believe they know why customers buy products, why ex-customers no longer buy products, and how customers want to be supported or approached for new deals. The biggest problem with this is that most customers don’t agree.
Study after study has found that companies don’t understand their customers nearly as well as they think they do. For this reason, it’s critical for companies to formulate ways to collect meaningful customer input. Chances are very good that only the most vocal customers are telling you what they really think, according to a recent blog post by Call Center IQ’s David Lee (News - Alert).
“They won’t tell you because they, like most of us, don’t enjoy confrontation,” he writes. “Most of us also don’t want to appear picky or petty, so we grin and bear the little inconveniences or sources of friction that make our customer experience less than perfect.”
If we’re not willing to grin and bear it, we ARE likely to take to social media to kvetch about it loudly to anyone who will listen. Social media empowers customers today to have their opinions heard far and wide, and negative social media posts that go viral can endanger a company’s bottom line.
Too many companies don’t ask customers what they think because they’re afraid of the answers. They might be afraid it will make more work for them, or underline the need to make expensive infrastructure or personnel changes. It’s better, some companies believe, to remain ignorant and do it “the way we’ve always done it.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t a great strategy for long-term survival. Customers expect more from ever from the companies with which they do business. Lee recommends that companies lower the threshold they mentally have to cross before they decide they’ll speak up.
“By lowering the threshold, you don’t require customers to get to the ‘I’ve had enough and I’m not going to take it anymore!’ point before they speak up,” he writes. It’s at this point that it’s unlikely you’ll ever get that customer back.
“By lowering the threshold, you capture many of those little alienating Moments of Truth that you would never hear about otherwise, thus enabling you to remove the aspects of your service experience that prevent it from being a brand-building ‘Wow!’ experience,” says Lee.
So use Web-based surveys. Use your IVR as a survey tool. Send out short e-mail surveys or texts (from customers who have given their permission for it). Have agents prod customers using encouraging language such as, “And how is your purchase working out for you?” or “Do you have anything you’d like to share with me about your experiences with our company?” Many of today’s hosted and cloud-based contact center solutions have features that allow for surveying and the sharing of intelligence gathered from these surveys.
By collecting real-time feedback through customer encouragement, you’ll be saved the pain of not finding out a customer is unhappy until after he or she is already gone.