The stakes are high!
A customer is 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related vs. price or product related. (Bain & Co.)
85% of customer churn due to poor service was preventable. (Huffington Post)
80% of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service; 8% of people think these same companies deliver “superior” customer service. (Bain & Co.)
Lately, I have been thinking about gaps from a different perspective. While the external gaps often get the attention, and they should, it’s possible that the real culprit may be internal gaps.
Customer facing gaps may be more closely associated with acquisition, loyalty and retention programs and funded as marketing expenses.
6 Internal gaps are more likely to be associated with operational expenses resulting in more scrutiny.
Customer data doesn’t travel in sync with the customer’s journey
42% of service agents are unable to efficiently resolve customer issues due to disconnected systems, archaic user interfaces, and multiple applications. (Forrester)
72% blamed their bad customer service interaction on having to explain their problem to multiple people. (Zendesk)
Accenture found that 89% of customers get frustrated because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives.
80% of customers say that companies do not have the context of their last conversation. (24/7 Inc.)
Frontline staff often face daunting challenges, particularly in the case of omni-channel customers. These customers are increasingly frustrated if they don’t have the ability to seamlessly move between mobile, social and traditional platforms.
The lack of access to data is often due to legacy systems that support traditional functional siloes. Companies that excel in providing a differentiating customer experience figure out ways to allow staff to harness and access data. There are increasingly powerful computers and software programs that interface with legacy systems, providing a more robust 360-degree view of the customer experience.
Customer insights are not shared across the organization
42% say companies are helpful but don’t do anything extra to keep their business. (American Express)
Most companies are still organized by functions. Marketing along with market research are responsible for creating segmentation profiles. All too often these profiles contain valuable information that isn’t made available across the organization.
Segmentation and custom profiles called personas are extremely helpful tools because they provide a richer, more human, perspective and by their very nature raise the awareness of internal staff.
Customer service staff are usually the first to become aware of issues and challenges that are creating suboptimal experiences.
By regularly sharing insights and trends internally, effective organizations are able to quickly respond to challenges before they become serious problems.
Customer facing stakeholders are not aware of marketing and other important initiatives
78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience. (American Express)
56% admit to having lost their temper with a customer service professional. (American Express)
Most of us have had an experience where we know more about a procedure or process than the employee in front of us. Marketing often creates and distributes offers without properly vetting and communicating with the operations team resulting in a frustrating customer experience because the operational staff doesn’t know how to redeem the offer.
Starbucks often prints the operational instructions right on the marketing piece so the barista knows how to deal with the offer. Carolyn Wilman writes about a particular type of communication briefing here.
Customer facing automation can create a barrier
67% of customers reported hanging up on an automated system out of frustration at not being able to reach a live person. (Glance)
55% of customer requests for service on social media are not acknowledged. (Huffington Post)
75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent. Source: Harris Interactive
In an effort to reduce costs companies have turned to automation in an attempt to control staffing costs. Automation shifts the burden of finding the right resource from the company to the customer, often with less than ideal results. Complicated selection options and long wait times usually result in high levels of customer irritation.
Best practice companies offer quick answers to questions, and they are constantly evaluating and designing their systems in an effort to remove flaws.
Customer service staff are not properly empowered or trained
50% of the time, customer service agents failed to answer their questions according to customers (Harris Interactive)
45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly. (Forrester)
26% of consumers have experienced being transferred from agent to agent without any resolution of their problem. (Global Customer Service Barometer)
By far, the most requested improvement from customers was “Better Human Service” Source: Genesys Global Survey
Lack of resources, lack of training, and wrong incentives are typically responsible for unresolved answers. As you can see from many of the stats I’ve already listed, customers are quick to leave organizations that take to long to respond or don’t respond at all.
Marketing channels are not connected so the customer experience is not seamless
90% of customers say they have had poor experience seeking customer support on mobile, according to Software advice
Aberdeen Group Inc. claims that companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.
Providing customers with multiple touch points is no longer optional. Starbucks, Panera Bread are among the few companies raising the bar for all companies. If I can order ahead for my coffee using the app, or have my lunch waiting to be picked up (or even delivered) then why do I have to fill out your form?
I have highlighted 6 internal gaps, you may be able to think of more. Companies are quickly realizing they need to solve these gaps, even if they may not refer to them as gaps. Creating and empowering cross-functional teams is an effective way to tackle these challenges.
Talking to customers, creating prototypes and eliminating unnecessary steps are effective ways to build bridges that can span these gaps and deliver better customer and employee experiences.
What do you think?