Issue No. 3 FORWARD TO FRIEND » SUBSCRIBE » CONTACT US »
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IN THIS ISSUE...
Spacer What Is Your Time Worth?
       Customer Service Bill of Rights


RESEARCH REPORT
Customer Service Call Center Research

TIPS
9 Actions and Tips for Improving Your Customer
       Service Call Center

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What Is Your Time Worth?
Customer Service Bill of Rights
 
Time and again, national studies show that most consumers are not happy with their customer service experiences. Findings from our year long research study indicate that almost two-thirds of customers—63 percent—rated their most recent telephone customer service as negative or neutral.

This research also shows that poor customer service isn’t good for American businesses. 83 percent of consumers who had a poor customer experience have negative perceptions of that company. 77 percent are unlikely to recommend that company to others. 72 percent are so perturbed they are unlikely to buy from that company again.

Considering what we spend for products and services, don’t we have the right to better treatment?

I’d like to suggest the following Customer Service Bill of Rights that makes companies accountable for the quality of their customer service—or they credit you for your time and frustration.

The Customer Service Bill of Rights

As a customer, I have the right:

  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 e-mail 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 e-mail 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 10 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 e-mail 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 e-mail.
 
Spacer To read and article by David Sims regarding the Customer Service Bill of Rights, click here.
 
RESEARCH REPORT:
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 the Customer Service Call Centers.

Key Findings:

1. Companies are not offering the quality of Customer Service Call Center support expected by customers.
  a. Almost two-thirds (63%) rated their recent Customer Service Call Center experience as negative or neutral.
  b. When describing their experiences, “frustrating”, “exasperating”, and “wasted time” were phrases often used.
  c. While companies in almost every segment were named as examples of negative Customer Service Call Center experiences, some segments were more often cited:
   
Cellular service / phone equipment / long-distance companies
   
Computer hardware / software companies
   
Online and offline retail companies
   
Financial services companies
   
Cable / internet providers.
2. Customer Service Call Center experiences directly impact the customers’ relationship with the companies they do business with.
  a. Customers state that bad Customer Service Call Center experiences negatively affect their:
   
Perception of that company (83%).
   
Likelihood to recommend the company to others (77%).
   
Willingness to buy from that company (72%).
  b. When customers have poor Customer Service Call Center experiences, they translate that service into the company telling them:
   
You can talk to a live person if you want to buy, but not if already bought.
   
Don’t call us; go look it up on the web yourself.
   
It costs too much money to provide you a live person to talk to.
   
If we do let you talk to a live person, it’s their job to get you off the phone, quickly.
  c. In many cases, customers describe experiences that cause them to discontinue their relationship with the company:
   
“...closed my account immediately.”
   
“...I cancelled my service.”
   
“I’ve filed a complaint with the insurance commissioner. . . “
   
“I am leaving and going to [a competitor]”
   
“I am looking for a new firm after a ten-year relationship. . . ”
Therefore, negative Customer Service Call Center experiences are likely to:
   
Erode a company’s brand image.
   
Halt positive word of mouth advertising.
   
Stunt repeat purchasing from existing customers.
   
Drive customers straight to the cash registers of your competitors.
  d. The good news: Excellent Customer Service Call Center experiences positively affect customers’:
   
Perception of that company (92%).
   
Willingness to buy from that company (90%).
   
Likelihood to recommend the company to others (88%).
Offering good Customer Service Call Center service can make a company stand out from its competitors. As pointed out by one customer:
   
“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.”
  e. One astute customer described the opportunity companies have to build a stronger relationship with their customers by “saving the day.”
   
“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.”
3. Poor Reactions to Outsourcing either overseas or in the U.S.

Another interesting finding is that company image is adversely affected when Customer Service Call Centers are outsourced, either in the U.S. or offshore.

Most callers report a negative to neutral impact when the Customer Service Call Center is located offshore (98 percent) or outsourced in the U.S. (93 percent).

In-house Customer Service Call Centers are either preferred (63 percent) or associated with no influence on company image (35 percent).
4. Customers have clear ideas of what makes for a good Customer Service Call Center experience.
  a. Seventy percent want:
   
An easy menu with minimum clutter to reach an appropriate representative (71%).
   
A rep who understands their needs (70%).
   
A rep that speaks clearly and is easy to understand (69%).
  b. Two-thirds (67%) want their issue handled in a single call.
  c. When asked what additional criteria they use to judge a good Customer Service Call Center experience, four primary areas were identified:
   
Timing
      1. Customers do not want long hold times.
      2. Customers want their problems solved quickly.
   
Expectations of a representative
      1. Customers expect reps to be polite, knowledgeable and empowered to take care of their problem.
   
Ability to reach a live person
      1. Many customers want the ability to bypass menus to immediately reach a live person.
   
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.
         
Are We Training Young People to Expect Poor Customer Service Call Center Experiences?

Thirty percent of the respondents identified themselves as college students in this study. We noticed some interesting differences in how college students responded to several of the questions.
1. College students are less likely to be bothered by menu clutter than adults
(57% vs. 78%).
  a. Most students have been “raised” on automated call center menus and haven’t experienced anything else.
  b. Students are also more likely to have a higher degree of comfort with technology than the average adult.
2. Students are less likely to have their opinions of the company swayed by poor Customer Service Call Center experiences
  a. This leads to the interesting question of whether businesses are training young people to expect poor Customer Service Call experiences.
 
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!
 
About the Study
The study was conducted with adults and college students. Total sample was 303 respondents.
 
       

TIPS

 
How Does Your Customer Service
Call Center Compare?
These findings provide nine insights and action items for executives involved with Customer Service Call Centers:
1. Do not cut back on training, quality, and investment in Customer Service Call Centers.
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 view Customer Service Call Centers as cost centers. In their rush to cut costs, companies must consider the financial ramifications of losing customers due to poor post-sale experiences.
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.
8. The fact that 35 percent of callers associated no influence on company image with in-house Customer Service Call Centers 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:

 

“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 or website. . .
[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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LETTER FROM ERNAN

Welcome to the third issue of Relationship Marketing Insights. Thanks for the positive feedback!

This issue focuses on three topics:

Recommendations for a Customer Service Bill of Rights
   
Results from our year long Customer Service Call Center research study
   
9 Actions and Tips for Improving Your Customer Service Call Center.

We did not initiate this research because we had any illusions about how people felt regarding the quality of customer service!

We conducted this research to quantify the impact of customer’s experiences on 3 key areas:

Perception of the company
   
Likelihood to recommend the company to others
   
Willingness to buy from the company.

The results are startling, both in terms of the damage from poor service, as well as the upside from good service!

This research confirms how poor Customer Service Call Centers have become. As a result, we are proposing a Customer Service Bill of Rights.

Please send me your questions or suggestions for future newsletters, at
ernan@erdm.com.
With best wishes,



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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
To learn more, go to Case Studies / Tips for You. Also go to Our Books to review Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing.

Contact Us for a complimentary consultation to discuss your needs and how the Consensual Marketing / Opt-In Process (CMO) may satisfy them.
 
 
 
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