Two decades ago, customer interactions were all business. Providing good service was sufficient to keep customers loyal and maintain buying relationships. Businesses all but ignored the occasional upset customer.
But today, we know that offering customers an optimal experience is the linchpin to growing sales in a competitive market. Organizations strive for a branded, differentiating experience that revolves around customer experience best practices. When sellers encounter an upset customer, they jump through hoops to appease them and scour social media for opportunities to mitigate negative word of mouth. Customer service teams are asked to read and respond to a range of customers’ emotions, whether in person, through email or chat or on the phone. And in times of crisis, as with the coronavirus pandemic, finding ways to connect with customers and deliver an experience that wows them is even more critical—and may ultimately be essential to the chances that a business will recover when the risk subsides.
To find out what universal behaviors define a positive customer experience and help organizations improve their customer experience strategy, we conducted an online survey of 5,500 global consumers. We asked those surveyed to describe their interactions with organizations and to identify the customer service behaviors they liked and didn’t like. Here’s what we learned.
Emotional Connections Are a Customer Experience Best Practice
The results of the survey were clear: respondents from every country said that what matters most to them is the emotional impact of their interaction with an organization’s front-line employees. Global survey respondents had this to say about customer experience:
- Being heard and respected are more important than having their issue resolved
- The top three negative in-person behaviors noted worldwide were interpersonal: the majority of respondents noted rudeness or indifference (46%) and “no concern for my problem” (50%)
- Only a quarter of respondents said that front-line employees “make me feel they are on my side”
In an environment where 50% of U.S. respondents were “somewhat” to “very” likely to defect to a competitor after a single poor experience and 93% of global respondents would leave for a competitor after three or fewer bad experiences, organizations must improve their customer experience by ensuring that every interaction with buyers is a positive, emotionally connected one.
How Customer Service Training Addresses Negative Customer Experiences
In the survey, consumers identified multiple tactics that turn them off. Fortunately, organizations can engage their customer service teams in customer experience training that teaches ways to avoid these bad behaviors. Here are some examples.
Annoying phone behaviors. Consumers identified the top three negative customer service phone behaviors as interpersonal: “being transferred multiple times,” “not getting a real person” and “being put on hold.” Equipping your service reps with the technical information they need to resolve customer questions as well as soft skills, such as how to use positive language when explaining to customers why a hold or transfer is necessary (and ensuring that transfer is as seamless as possible), makes the difference between a positive experience and one that causes you to lose a customer.
Sticking to the script. Scripted or canned responses were also widely panned by 44% of respondents. Because no two customers are the same, customer service reps need to take an individualized response to each customer. Build your team’s open-ended questioning techniques and listening skills so they get a detailed understanding of the customer’s point of view, avoid leaping to an incorrect conclusion about the customer’s problem and are able to respond genuinely and with emotion. After learning these skills, service reps sound more credible and customer-focused.
Upselling and cross-selling. More than 40% of consumers said they found it annoying when employees talked to them “about things other than the problem I am trying to resolve,” such as upselling and cross-selling. That may be because service reps feel pressured to sell and either don’t know how or think it shouldn’t be part of their job.
Bridging Service into Sales teaches service reps how to build relationships with customers first—before ever trying to solve the customer’s problem or trying to sell anything. They also learn how to communicate clearly and guide customer conversations with appropriate questions so they have a better understanding of the customer’s needs—including the need behind the need—so they can address them with the right products and solutions. Customer service reps also learn that selling is an extension of providing good customer service, so they become more willing to embrace positive selling behaviors.
Service Ready Teaches Service Reps How to Connect With Customers
Emotion is essential for building customer loyalty. Service Ready training courses are grounded in customer experience best practices refined over decades of service experience.
Contact us now to learn how Service Ready offers service reps the building blocks essential to forming strong, lasting emotional bonds with customers and building your organization’s customer experience strategy.