The Importance of Consistency in Customer Service
It’s one thing to deliver good service to a customer, but quite another to achieve this with regular consistency. However, it's exactly this kind of consistency that today's customer demands.
A good business will always be aware of the important role excellent customer service plays in its success. It is critical to understand that winning customers and building loyalty takes time and that in order to build good customer relationships, you need to deliver consistent service if you are to retain your customer’s hard-won loyalty. One way to do this is through end-to-end customer service automation. Your call center agents have the tools they need to engage with customers the way they want, and the customers' needs are met quickly. Everyone's happy. Everyone wins.
It is also important to understand just how fragile customer relationships can be. It's far easier to lose a client due to poor customer service and issues not quickly resolved to the customer’s satisfaction than it is to obtain loyalty in the first place.
Customers value consistency from their service providers, because they base their expectations on previous positive experiences. Therefore, it is crucial to not only deliver good customer service at first asking but to keep on delivering service at the same, if not better, level every time, if you are to continue ensuring customer satisfaction.
This means that you need to focus on making sure that your interactions with customers are consistent and quality based. It's only logical that a consumer’s confidence in your organization will increase if you deliver a consistent level of quality in your service – achieving this ensures that the customer feels valuable to your business.
Obviously, no enterprise is perfect, and customers understand that. However, they are more likely to forgive an occasional misstep, provided the problem is handled quickly and with care. What customers will not tolerate is any kind of rudeness, neglect or failure to deliver on promises.
This is why consistency is so important. Clients need to know that you will deliver on your promises every time, rather than only when it may be convenient for you. This is put nicely into perspective by the fact that customers, on average, will tell less than 10 other people about good service they have received, whereas the number is closer to 20 when it comes to letting people know about a bad experience.
The Most Powerful Customer Service Tool
Consistency is an exceptionally powerful customer service tool, particularly in today‘s world, where competition has never been greater, and both consumer choice and empowerment are increasing.
Of course, getting consistency right can be tricky, particularly given the proliferation of channels, which has led to customers triggering an increasing number of interactions with companies as they seek solutions to their challenges. This, in turn, means that they are creating clusters of interactions across multiple channels. It's vital to service each of these interactions with the same aplomb, in order to deliver a quality cumulative experience. For consumers, their overall customer journey is more important than any individual interaction.
There is a perceived expectation that every customer has when conducting a service-related interaction and it is critical to always meet these expectations if you are to deliver a consistent experience. Achieving this will demonstrate that you care and that you view customers as individuals - customers always want to feel like their problem means something to you. They want to feel that you have their best interests at heart and are genuinely eager to assist them.
By ensuring consistency, you, in turn, show that you care about how you engage and deliver service to customers.
3 Key Areas for Creating Consistency in Customer Service
So, how do you go about creating this level of consistency?
For one thing, it's necessary for employees across the organization, from salespeople to customer service staff, to meet regularly to share problems and possible solutions to customer service-related issues. A critical element of consistency lies in breaking down silos between departments. Furthermore, you can conduct online surveys and invite customers to provide feedback on their experiences with your organization, in order to learn what is most important to them. Once you are aware of what the key issues are, you can fix them immediately. In addition, monitor customers on all their social streams to catch praise or dissatisfaction, both of which you can learn from.
In addition, always provide clients with a time frame for expecting your response and consider setting up automated responses to incoming client emails, to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
When it comes to demonstrating your company’s consistency in customer service, there are three key areas of focus. Naturally, you need to focus on delivering customer journey consistency. This means having clear policies, rules, and supporting mechanisms to ensure consistency during each and every interaction with a customer.
Since the customer journey more often than not touches different parts of the organization, you may need to specifically create internal teams that are responsible for the end-to-end customer journey across these functions.
After all, we now live in an omnichannel world, and it's crucial to ensure that whatever channel, or even multiple channels, the customer chooses to use, they receive the same level of service across each one. The greater the variability in their experiences, the less likelihood of the customer ultimately being happy with the service received - variability is, after all, the very opposite of consistency.
The second area of focus needs to be emotional consistency. You need to engender positive customer experience emotions at all times. This builds trust and helps you forge a deeper and more meaningful relationship with clients. The greater the emotional connection between your customer and your business, the higher the customer loyalty. After all, nothing is more trustworthy than consistency.
Finally, your organization should focus on delivering communication consistency. Your brand is driven by more than simply promises made and promises kept. It is also about ensuring that customers recognize when you have delivered on those promises. This means you should proactively shape your key messages and customer communications to consistently highlight such delivery.
Focus on Continuous Improvement
Achieving all of the above will mean you have to constantly track progress, effectiveness and predict opportunities, which may require your business to rethink both its metrics and analytics, in order to properly report on the customer journey, rather than individual touchpoints.
Furthermore, it is critical to immediately fix those areas where you have identified negative experiences as being common. Reducing bad experiences, even when your service is not necessarily at an exceptional level yet, will help to give the customer a stronger feeling of consistency.
Perhaps most importantly of all, you must bear in mind that the overall customer journey includes much more than just the customer service aspect. Everything from pre-sale engagement through to after-sales service forms part of this journey. So true consistency will encompass every single aspect of your organization.
Customers today have far more control than they did in the past. They're also increasingly perceptive and pay attention to every little detail. Therefore, your business simply cannot afford to compromise on any component of the customer journey. Customers expect the same level of service quality across each and every stage of the customer journey. The only road to true success is to pay attention to detail, offer the highest quality service possible and ensure that every one of your people stays focused on maintaining the high standards you set for your business. There is little doubt that your customers today expect that.
[About the author] Dylon Mills is the Director of Marketing Content Strategy & Development at Jacada. As such, Dylon’s main responsibilities are to strategize, create and deliver content for Jacada’s product portfolio that aligns with the global Go-To-Market strategy, corporate positioning, and marketing campaigns. Dylon’s prior work experience includes Product Management at one of the top Fortune 500 Technology companies, Symantec Corporation. Outside of work, Dylon enjoys problem-solving and any project that includes building/tinkering with tools. Dylon holds a BS Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia.