By Chris Sparling, CX Strategy Director, Reputation
Customer service complaints have hit their highest level on record, according to the Institute of Customer Service. Its customer satisfaction index, released mid-year, estimated UK businesses are losing over £90bn a month as a result.
No matter the revenue size or headcount, in today’s customer experience (CX) landscape – marked by high expectations and low leniency – it is vital businesses can understand and respond to changes in customer behaviour.
With one survey showing that half of customers would switch to another brand after a single bad experience, and another report stating almost all those surveyed cited customer service as critical to brand loyalty – poor service can only harm an organisation’s image and be detrimental to business outcomes. As such, it’s important for companies to continually monitor and strengthen their reputation.
Accomplishing this means developing a robust CX programme capable of harnessing deep customer insights.
Data is currency
Unlocking the insights from customer interactions is a complex task, and the data can come from a variety of touchpoints, including net promoter score (NPS), social media channels, review surveys and websites, chatbots and private customer interaction. This feedback provides businesses with an abundance of unstructured data, which is pivotal for engaging with the public at a deeper level and swiftly pinpointing areas for improvement.
Insight acquired from feedback is a business’ most valuable currency, particularly when it comes to staying competitive.
The huge volumes of data that come with managing customer feedback present an operational and logistical challenge that is often time-consuming, especially for businesses with siloed data across multiple locations. At first glance, it can seem like an overwhelming task, but with today’s customer experience management tools, this needn’t be the case.
By aggregating all data collected from an enterprise’s digital channels and converting it into insight, businesses can set targets, quantify improvement, drive business outcomes and increase the bottom line.
When Westfield Group wanted to drive organic growth, with a focus on driving operational improvements at its different locations and building a culture of customer-centricity, it adopted a customised solution to generate meaningful insight by soliciting and acting upon customer feedback.
Through feedback analysis, Westfield was able to understand its customers’ preferences and implement measures to deliver upon customer demands, which included improving the cleanliness of centres, overhauling and improving parking facilities and updating escalator facilities. It soon raised its NPS from 24 to 39, improved its star rating from 4.1 to 4.3 and achieved higher occupation rates at its shopping centres with higher NPS and customer satisfaction.
Similarly, when car manufacturer Kia UK found its star rating was declining across locations – it transformed its business culture to one where customer sentiment informed business decisions. By increasing its capacity to respond to reviews by 750%, it gained reviews and customers, contributing to its UK market share rising by 25%. Acting on the data resulting from feedback meant it was able to change market perceptions.
One last example comes from Kwik Fit, a business that wanted to act on rising customer complaints quickly. To do so, the team implemented short customer satisfaction surveys accessible via QR Code in its waiting rooms. Using our technology, survey results can be quickly analysed and the customer support team alerted if an unhappy customer is still onsite. Kwik Fit’s customer service team then aims to call the customer immediately to remedy the issue, and prevent it escalating into a complaint. This instant reaction to complaints has led to overwhelmingly positive feedback.
The future of CX and the role of the Chief Reputation Officer
It only takes a single ill-timed comment on social media or one unsatisfied customer to snowball into a crisis that can leave a business’ reputation in tatters and its revenue in decline.
With an understanding of your customers and staff being critical for business prosperity, some organisations have introduced a Chief Reputation Officer (CRO) – their responsibility is to oversee the brand’s health and reputation, including internal and external communications. Tasked with spotting red flags and mitigating negative feedback, their role is to ensure a quick response, complemented by a considered crisis management plan. With access to the right technology, a CRO can assist CX, communications, marketing and sales departments.
Since no business is immune from the aftermath of below-par CX, it’s by having a considered response to a moment of crisis that a company can maintain its integrity for being reliable, honest and trustworthy – qualities that are sought after by both customers and staff.
CX as a reflection of employee experience
It’s not just a business’ reputation that is affected by feedback, so too is staff morale. And with the global talent shortage impacting all industries, being attentive to the employee experience is a crucial part of protecting a business’ brand that should not be underestimated.
A tarnished image is enough to deter prospective talent from wanting to work for an organisation. And if it becomes particularly negative, current staff will leave and take their industry know-how with them too.
Research by Deloitte that looked at Gen Z and Millennial values found almost two in five had declined a role because it was at odds with their beliefs. Conversely, those content with the environmental and societal impact of the businesses they worked for, and their endeavours to create an inclusive and diverse company culture, were more likely to remain with their employer for five years or more.
Having a transparent company culture and workplace pays dividends in terms of talent retention. It also stands to reason that happy staff results in the delivery of better customer service. Here is an example of how having a CRO can make all the difference, since they can identify staff who are in jeopardy of leaving, partner with key stakeholders in HR to address issues and take the steps in advance to help convince them to remain. Better yet, this contributes to fostering trust and a positive atmosphere, helping to inspire teams and drive better business results.
Responding to customer appetites
Listening carefully to customers and staff to better understand them and be able to rapidly react to their needs is key to keeping them happy and fundamental for business success.
To stay abreast of ever-changing customer values, their morals and how they feel about your business requires constant surveillance. Identifying emerging trends, for example, the public paying more attention to a business’s green credentials or responding to a drop in favourable reviews for a regional outlet or dealership could be the determining factor in meeting sales targets.
By monitoring all channels of CX contact – be they public or private, solicited or unsolicited feedback – businesses can pivot in response to customer appetite. better align with customer values and drive the essential outcomes to remain competitive.