January 19/26, 2015; Volume 28/Number 15
By Lisbeth Calandrino
Approximately 85% of all businesses involve some kind of service, so why do they have only one customer service department? Often when businesses tell me they need customer service training they rarely mean the entire organization.
According to an American Express survey, 80% of Americans agree that smaller companies place a greater emphasis on customer service than large businesses. It seems the bigger the company, the more customer service is concentrated in one department. In my experience, the customer service department employees are not the highest paid but get the most training.
These people are trained on good customer service protocol and how to deal with difficult customers. If you talk with most customer service department employees and ask where most of their problems come from, they will tell you it is other departments in their own company. Although companies usually say they care about customer service, few actually train anyone beyond the customer service department.
Customer satisfaction is the bottom line for most companies and it provides marketers and business owners with a metric they can use to manage and improve their businesses.
Through online interactions today’s customer has become your company spokesperson, making customer service the most important part of your business. If the customer doesn’t have a good experience, it’s doubtful you will get any sales referrals. If you don’t follow your customers through the buying experience, you won’t know if you’re winning the sales game until it’s too late.
Improving customer service has become increasingly difficult. In order to improve customer service a company must be aware of the customer interaction points and the outcome of these engagements. Most companies don’t engage in “customer journey mapping” (CJM),” which determines the customer’s interaction points and then monitors them.
Customer journey mapping is not exactly new, but the process is usually self-serving and limited to internal concerns. As long as the process goes smoothly for the business no one is interested in what the customer really thinks. Companies ask meaningless questions like, “Did we do a good job?” instead of measuring customer interactions in every department. During one of my customer service training sessions customers were asked where they were having the most problems; the overwhelming answer was with the outside salesperson, the lack of follow-ups and stopping in without making an appointment.
Flooring companies tend to put the customer through a variety of interactions between departments. No one asks the customer how she feels about these interactions or if the process has gone smoothly. The real question is, “What do your customers think about these interactions and does your protocol make sense to them?” I cite the practice of many companies in which the after-sales call to the customer is done by a stranger rather than the salesperson. If you ask any customer, she will tell you she’s not interested in talking to a stranger. In addition, since 90% of new business comes from referrals, the salesperson has lost an opportunity. The customer wants to share her experience, good or bad, with “her” salesperson.
The purpose of CJM is to differentiate your company, reduce defections, decrease bad press and engage the customer at every interaction. In order to do this, there must be a process in place.
To build a CJM system that works, it must include a discussion with your customers and non-customers (external data) and how they rate their experiences in your departments. In other words, does your CJM system work for the customer?