Think about your last experience with reporting an issue to customer support. How did it go?
How did it make you feel? Was the issue resolved promptly and without fuss? Were you treated with respect and was your perspective valued? Were you heard? Did you feel like they wanted to hear you?
In the world of customer relationships, there’s an age-old conundrum.
Normally, effective processes boil down to what gets measured and how to manage that. But unfortunately, it’s much easier to measure how long it takes to manufacture something on an assembly line than it is to understand how much pain a customer feels during a bad issue resolution situation.
Often, we make the mistake of viewing these processes as black and white. Either you win or you don't. The customer buys something or they don’t. They churn or they renew.
But when it comes to customer satisfaction, the question isn’t simply, “Was the ticket closed or not?” Behind that ticket status is a customer critically evaluating how they feel and their perception of your company and brand, all simmering below the surface of your reporting.
We try to create processes and paths based on predictable outcomes. But customer service is rooted in human emotions, which are overwhelming, complicated, and impossible to predict.
Take, for instance, the Net Promoter Score (NPS). There’s a reason it’s a scale of one through 10 and not just two checkboxes: one for “good” and one for “bad.”
The common practice is to assume customers who give your company a 4, 5, or 6 for your NPS probably don’t hate you… but there’s a reason they don’t love you. Why? Learning the reasons they don’t rave about you helps you better understand the secret sauce behind your customer loyalty, and gives you the edge over your competition. Actively listening to your entire market leads to better products.
Treat Trust as a Precious Commodity
As consumers, we've grown to expect near-immediate satisfaction. We know firsthand that when customer relationships go downhill, they roll fast.
When you consider the tactics that some corporations use today such as the practice of paying for positive reviews, or the more subliminal approach of influencer marketing (peer-to-peer), it’s no wonder customers are more skeptical than ever.
On top of that, customers are walking around with the entire internet in their pocket at all times. There's a lot of information for them to sift through, and a lot of ways they could potentially feel deceived.
That’s why establishing and maintaining customer trust can be extremely difficult—and time isn't on your side. From the perspective of the company, issue resolution must be that much speedier to keep the customer from jumping ship.
We’re in a cutthroat market, and companies have to be aware of that. It’s a market where one off-day with a slower resolution time or worse service experience than a competitor could amount to one less customer, one missed metric, one less investor.
Don’t Take Lack of Competition for Granted
As some of us learned back in Econ class, some products are considered inelastic, meaning people still need to buy them despite what the market is doing. A common example of this is gasoline because even in a recession people still need to drive.
By contrast, perhaps a company that sells customizable popcorn flavors will see major changes to its revenue based on market swings. People don’t need personalized popcorn during a recession, but they do still need to drive their kids to school and get to work.
Here’s the thing, though: even inelastic products have competition. Certain medical device companies may feel confident that their product is the primary option for their customers (healthcare providers or patients). They may even have IP restrictions and patents that ensure fractional added security and value.
But it's important for companies from all industries to realize if your product is degraded by a lack of customer satisfaction through poor service or slow issue resolution—then you're inviting competition. You’re asking to be disrupted.
You're begging someone else to say please take my customers away from me!
Even if you have the lion’s share of your target market, if all those customers are unhappy—and they’ve been unhappy for a while—the moment another company gives them a reason to switch, they will.
Better Relationships = Better Products
If you’re still not concerned about your customer relationships, consider the long-term potential for product improvement.
A robust and thoughtful customer issue resolution process is a goldmine for product teams. With a direct connection to customer service data, product teams can refine their use cases and personas, incorporate new or updated requirements, and improve both the quality and desirability of products in future designs.
If we know anything about today’s digital marketplace, it’s that people who don’t like something about your product will probably let you know. And by contrast, your happiest customers will be more likely to rate your company positively or leave a nice product review.
But these folks—those who are vocal at all—are the minority. The squeaky wheel.
The voices you want to seek out are all those people in the middle ground, who typically don’t give you feedback. Those who just make a purchase and move on. The silent majority. The majority of your market you might not even be tapping into.
Consider a campaign to reach out to those aforementioned 4s, 5s, and 6s.
The issues they’re encountering with your product are probably affecting a lot more people than your product team realizes, or even your customer success team realizes. They’re likely not giving you critical user data because you haven’t asked for it yet.
All of these missed connections with customers are missed opportunities to identify flaws in your product. Or ideas to expand a business line or even develop a new one. and improve. Or even threats that you can reduce the risk of and eliminate.
It’s important to remember in the era of digital marketplaces, much of this communication will happen informally. Comment sections, forums, social media, video tutorials, customer communities, and many, many more outlets for the customer voice are all chances to connect with your customer.
Embedding Trust with Your Tech
Maintaining and tracking data for all of these new channels may seem like a best case scenario, but unrealistic. Traditional product lifecycle providers certainly don’t have these capabilities.
Luckily, modern industry solutions are catching up. Propel Software, for instance, is taking a new approach to the focus on customer satisfaction by connecting every stakeholder in the organization on the same platform.
This new approach is called product value management (PVM), which uses cohesive, contextual collaboration to allow customer support and service teams to alert R&D and design teams directly—down to the level of a specific product iteration.
The more connected your team is, the faster you can deliver products based on your customers’ feedback. The more your customers feel heard, the more trust you build.
Read our analysis of today’s consumer behavior—and increasingly fragile trust—in the article, “What Matters Most to Consumers?”