Customer Relationship Marketing
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing guarantees double-digit response rates using consensual opt-in customer relationship marketing solutions, customer relationship management and creating integrated marketing solutions
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Issue No. 14   SUBSCRIBE » CONTACT US »
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IN THIS ISSUE...
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arrow Insights from Ernan
   
arrow New Research Data: Damage From Poor Customer Service Call Center Experiences is Greater Than Anticipated
   
arrow 7-Point Customer Service Bill of Rights
   
 
  INSIGHTS FROM ERNAN
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New Research Results Are Worrisome

As many of you know, since 2005 we have been conducting research to quantify how customers’ attitudes toward companies are influenced by their experiences with Customer Service Call Centers.

Results are just in from the most recent sample of 360 respondents, which included 195 business professionals and 165 college students.

Findings include:

  • Companies are not offering the quality of Customer Service Call Center support expected by customers:
    • Two-thirds (66.0%) of professionals and almost two thirds (62.3%) of college students rated their recent Customer Service Call Center experience as negative or neutral.
  • Customer Service Call Center experiences directly impact the customers’ relationship with the companies they do business with:
    • Professionals state that poor Customer Service Call Center experiences negatively affect their:
      • Willingness to buy from that company: 86.3% versus 72% in 2005.
      • Perception of that company: 98.9% versus 83% in 2005.
      • Likelihood to recommend the company to others: 91.5% versus 77% in 2005.
    • College students also feel that poor Customer Service Call Center experiences negatively affect their:
      • Willingness to buy from that company: 93.5%.
      • Perception of that company: 96.8%.
      • Likelihood to recommend the company to others: 95.5%.

Detailed results from the research are contained below.

7- Point Customer Service Bill of Rights
In response to this discouraging data, I think it’s time for action.

Please read the proposed 7- Point Customer Service Bill of Rights below. It is an attempt to force marketers to respect customer’s time and needs or pay a penalty.

There is no reason that Customer Service abuse should not be penalized.

These are radical ideas and I welcome your feedback and suggestions. Please email me or call me at 718-225-4151.

If you are attending DM Days in N.Y., please join us on Wednesday, June 20th, for our 10:20 a.m. 11:10 a.m. presentation, Breakthroughs in Opt-In Marketing: Learn the Strategies that Helped Microsoft Achieve Opt-In Rates of 40% plus

To read previous newsletters, click here.

With best wishes,

Ernan

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Customer Service Call Center Research
 
 

Objective:

The objective of this research was to quantify how customers’ attitudes toward companies are influenced by their experiences with Customer Service Call Centers.

Sample:

The sample of 360 respondents was comprised of 195 business professionals and 165 college students. The 2005 baseline research was comprised of 303 business professionals.

Key Findings:

  1. Companies are not offering the quality of Customer Service Call Center support expected by customers.
    1. Two-thirds (66.0%) of professionals and almost two-thirds (62.3%) of college students rated their recent Customer Service Call Center experience as negative or neutral. This represents an increase of 3 percentage points versus the results of our study with professionals conducted in 2005.
    2. When describing their experiences, “frustrating”, “exasperating”, and “wasted time” were phrases often used.
    3. While companies in almost every segment were cited as examples of negative Customer Service Call Center experiences, some segments were more often cited:
      1. Cellular service / phone equipment / long-distance companies
      2. Computer hardware / software companies
      3. Online and offline retail companies
      4. Financial services companies
      5. Cable / internet providers.

  2. Customer Service Call Center experiences directly impact the customers’ relationship with the companies they do business with. The repercussions from negative experiences have jumped since 2005.
    1. Professionals state that poor Customer Service Call Center experiences negatively affect their:
      1. Willingness to buy from that company: 86.3% versus 72% in 2005.
      2. Perception of that company: 98.9%, versus 83% in 2005.
      3. Likelihood to recommend the company to others: 91.5% versus 77% in 2005.
    2. College students also feel that poor Customer Service Call Center experiences negatively affect their:
      1. Willingness to buy from that company: 93.5%.
      2. Perception of that company: 96.8%.
      3. Likelihood to recommend the company to others: 95.5%.
    3. When customers have poor Customer Service Call Center experiences, they translate that service into the company telling them:
      1. Almost forced to use them and they know it.
      2. Don't really care about delivering good customer service.
      3. It costs too much money to provide you a live person to talk to.
      4. If we do let you talk to a live person, it’s their job to get you off the phone, quickly.
    4. In many cases, customers describe experiences that cause them to discontinue their relationship with the company:
      1. I have sued them twice.
      2. I will change where I do business.
      3. I cancelled the service.
      4. I am working with my company to enlist a new insurance company for next year.
      5. I will never in this lifetime, buy anything from this company.

    Therefore, negative Customer Service Call Center experiences are likely to:

    1. Erode a company’s brand image.
    2. Halt positive word of mouth advertising.
    3. Discourage repeat purchasing from existing customers.
    4. Increase the likelihood of trying a competitor.
  1. The good news: Good Customer Service Call Center experiences positively affect customers’ attitude toward the company. However, the magnitude of positive influence declined since 2005 for some indicators:

For professionals:

  1. Willingness to buy from that company: 80.3%. Decreased by 9.7% from 90% in 2005.
  2. Perception of that company: 93.8%. Increased by 1.8% from 92% in 2005.
  3. Likelihood to recommend the company to others: 80.8%. Decreased by 7.2% from 88% in 2005.

For students:

  1. Willingness to buy from that company: 91.1%.
  2. Perception of that company: 93.1%.
  3. Likelihood to recommend the company to others: 88.5%.

Offering good Customer Service Call Center service can make a company stand out from its competitors. As pointed out by one customer:

  1. Experience with good ones [Customer Service Call Centers] makes me really impatient when I reach the bad ones. Good competitors put bad companies out of business.
  1. One astute customer described the opportunity companies have to build a stronger relationship with their customers by “saving the day.”
  1. I find that Customer Care representatives view their job as simply taking nagging phone calls. Really, their job means so much more than that to the caller. The Customer Care rep is there to really provide a solution, or be the ‘Saver of the Day’ for the problem or question the caller is contacting them about.
  1. It is alarming that when comparing the data from 2005 with 2007, the influence of positive Call Center experience has declined…presumably due to so many negative experiences.
  1. Poor Reactions to Outsourcing either overseas or in the U.S.
  2. Another important finding is that company image is adversely affected when Call Centers are outsourced, either in the U.S. or offshore.

    Most callers report a negative to neutral impact when the call center is:

    1. Located offshore: 77.8% of professionals and 97.4% of students
    2. Outsourced in the U.S.: 78.8% of professionals and 98.7% of students.

    In-house Call Centers do not perform significantly better than outsourced ones. In-house Call Centers are no longer particularly satisfying to customers.

    Only 50.4% of professionals and 39.4% of students preferred In-House Call Centers, while in 2005, 63% of professionals preferred In-house Call Centers and 35% associated with no influence on company image.

    1. Customers have clear ideas of what makes for a good call Customer Service Call Center experience.
    1. More than 60% want:
      1. An easy menu with minimum clutter to reach an appropriate representative: 63.1% of professionals and 70.9% of students.
      2. A rep who understands their needs: 65.1% of professionals and 64.8% of students.
      3. A rep that speaks clearly and is easy to understand: 62.6% of professionals and 67.3% of students.
    2. 67% of professionals and 68.5% of students want their issue handled in a single call.
    3. When asked what additional criteria they use to judge a good Customer Service Call Center experience, four primary areas were identified:
        1. Timing
          1. Customers do not want long hold times.
          2. Customers want their problems solved quickly.
        2. Expectations of a representative
          1. Customers expect reps to be polite, knowledgeable and empowered to take care of their problem.
        3. Ability to reach a live person
          1. Many customers want the ability to bypass menus to immediately reach a live person.
        4. Electronic information access for all representatives
          1. Customers expect that every rep they talk to should have access to customer records, minimizing the need to repeat basic information multiple times.

    To express your opinions and your experiences with Customer Care Call Centers, please go to www.erdm.com and click on “Customer Care Call Center Survey.” We welcome your feedback!

    Special thanks to Yuchuan Chai, Master of Science in Marketing, Baruch College, City University of New York for his help in tabulating the data.

 
 
7-Point Customer Service Bill of Rights
 

This proposed 7- Point Customer Service Bill of Rights is an attempt to force marketers to respect customer’s time and needs or pay a penalty.

There is no reason that Customer Service abuse should not be penalized.

These are radical ideas and I welcome your feedback and suggestions. Please email me or call me at 718-225-4151.

  1. To have my precious time respected by the company’s customer service department in every situation and to have my issue resolved in a single phone call or email by one representative who speaks clearly, is easy to understand and has access to my customer records.
  2. To be treated with courtesy and respect as a customer who paid money to the company with the expectation of customer service that cares about my individual needs.
  3. To have adequately trained representatives who know enough to actually solve my problem and who will provide me with a case number I can use for a credit if I do not receive great service, as well as the ability to call back or email the same representative should the need arise.
  4. To receive quality customer service – including an easy-to-use menu with a minimum of clutter to quickly reach a representative – OR be compensated for my time and effort.
  5. To rapid access to a live person from a company with sufficient staff so I am not kept waiting on-hold for more than 5 minutes, or I will receive a negotiable credit on my next bill. I also have the right to receive a negotiable credit on my next bill from the company if the first customer service rep does not have my records or cannot solve my problem and has to transfer me.
  6. To receive a negotiable credit on my next bill from the company if I have to speak with more than 2 customer service representatives trying to resolve my issue. I also have the right to receive a negotiable credit on my next bill from the company if I ask for a supervisor and none is available,
  7. To receive a negotiable credit on my next bill from the company if I am billed incorrectly and I have to call or email to fix the problem, or I am given the wrong information to fix my problem by any of their representatives, compelling me to call back or send another email.



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How Does Your Customer Service Call Center Compare?

Based on the research findings, we would like to provide 9 insights and action items for executives involved with Customer Service Call Centers:

  1. Do not view Customer Service Call Centers as cost centers. These are revenue centers. In their rush to cut costs, companies must consider the financial ramifications of losing customers due to poor post-sale experiences.
  2. Customers’ post-sales experiences have significant impact on repeat purchase likelihood and willingness to recommend the company.
  3. The damage from poor Customer Service Call Center experiences is significant. Companies need to consider what that is costing them.
  4. Do not cut back on Training, Quality Control procedures, and investment in Customer Service Call Centers.
  5. Remember that it’s 7 to 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to sell an existing customer.
  6. Keep in mind that, per the research data, positive Customer Service Call Center experiences solidify the relationship between the customer and the company.
  7. Companies should focus on the quality of customers’ experiences with their Customer Service Call Centers, regardless of where they are located. Plenty of horror stories were reported regarding in-house, U.S. Call Centers as well as outsourced centers. The important takeaway is that customers expect quality post-sale care regardless of where the center is located.
  8. The fact that only 50% of professionals preferred an in-house call center is alarming. These findings indicate that many companies are not viewing these in-house customer service interactions as an opportunity to strengthen their brand or customer relationships. This is a significant, wasted opportunity.
  9. Personally check your Customer Service Call Center to see if it is up to your standards. As one customer articulately stated:
    1. I think CEOs and all senior management of any company that provides services or products should call their call centers. They should note the amount of time it takes to get a live person or just to navigate the phone tree . . . [experience] the frustration of talking to someone who is not a native speaker, individuals who are not familiar with the product or service they are selling…individuals who can’t be asked questions that aren’t in their script…
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Click here for additional customer relationship management solutions case studies.

We wish you the best of luck in using the Voice-of-Customer-driven 3-Step Marketing Process to achieve double-digit response.

    To read previous newsletters, click here.
    For additional case studies, click here.

     
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing | 3 Melrose Lane | Douglas Manor, NY 11363 | Phone: 718.225.4151 | Fax: 718.225.4889
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