Gartner predicted that by 2016, 89% of companies planned to compete primarily based on customer experience. In the past three weeks I’ve been on the road meeting customers across all different industries and they all have taken this to heart.
It is no longer sufficient to compete on price and product alone. So there is a lot of emphasis on transitioning customer service from transactional order entry to an informed experience that generates new revenue streams. Oracle has noted that 74% of executives believe great customer experience impacts loyalty, and American Express found that 60% of customers are willing to pay for a better experience.
What’s impressive is the simple steps that our customers have taken and their results. They can cut order entry from 9 minutes to 2 minutes, which frees up their customer service representatives (CSRs) allowing them to spend more time talking to their customers.
Typically, sales teams are expected to build relationships and drive sales, but a chemical company I visited explained that CSRs are their secret salesperson. CSRs are not seen as sales, yet the customer trusts them as a seller since they work with them on a regular basis. The chemical company explained that freeing up CSRs to build relationships and allowing them to travel to meet customers has generated additional revenue. In some cases, their customers even noted on their order that they’re buying more because of the phenomenal service they received.
I’ve met CSRs that hold Master’s degrees and even a Ph.D. There are smart folks in customer service who are unable to put their analytical problem-solving skills to work because they have to hit their line entry quota. When given more time and the right technology they can do things like:
- Always call the customer when there is an issue with ship date, quantity etc.
- Educate customers who continue to issue wrong part codes, descriptions, obsolete products
- Track all field changes and determine if an issue is related to the customer or internal master data
- Move into coaching and supervising new hires and CSRs creating errors
- Transition into other departments such as IT, logistics and inside sales
Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Empire, is famous for saying “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” Happy, engaged employees will always go the extra mile to serve and delight the customer. What I saw over the last three weeks was our customers giving their CSRs the ability to that.
What would it be worth to your company if you could unleash the full potential of your CSRs?