Customer Experience Training Isn't a Luxury, It's a Necessity
Much has been said about how business owners and leaders are feeling, post-pandemic. Many are short-staffed and frustrated regarding the customer service quality their current employees are delivering. Now that we’re making the Great Adjustment it’s time to review what is working, and what is not, and discover why customer experience (CX) training isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity.
How are Customer Service Representatives Feeling in the New Business Reality?
It’s no longer enough to be the customer’s brand of choice. You must become the employee brand of choice. Drawing the best candidates from the labor pool is foundational to growth. And to accomplish that, you must have a pulse on how customer service representatives across industries are feeling. According to a study by Zendesk, the mood in 2022 is burned out, overworked, and undervalued. Since last year, customer support requests have jumped 14 percent and customer service reps are often expected to cover extra bases across the entire customer journey, far beyond their job descriptions.
They believe their work is increasingly important, with a greater need for a strategy to deliver the highest quality of experience to the customer. Yet the statistics for categories in which CSRs are “extremely satisfied” are shockingly low:
-Training quality: 20%
-View of CSR team by the company overall: 17%
-Ability to suggest changes: 17%
-Training frequency: 17%
-Career path options: 14%
-Performance metrics: 14%
Not exactly a recipe for high morale or even employee retention, much less delivering a world-class experience to your customers.
The Increasing Importance of Customer Service-Led Growth
As we know, customer service teams don’t simply solve problems. They also build long-term relationships in which each interaction holds an opportunity for more beneficial and deeper engagement. The service they provide has become a key differentiator for both companies and customers, particularly due to ever-booming eCommerce. And customer expectations are higher than ever, with more than 60 percent indicating elevated standards for a positive experience. This number shoots up to 64 percent for the customer segment under 40. GenZ’s and Millennials are even less willing to accept the status quo. With stronger opinions regarding what defines the best service ever, they are more likely to criticize companies for not providing it. They aren’t looking for an average purchase experience; they want their lives enriched.
More than half of consumers feel that for most businesses they patronize, customer service is an afterthought. Yet, even in times of economic downturn, more than 90 percent are willing to spend more when a company offers CX access in their preferred mode (e.g., email). Personalizing the customer experience is also a sales driver, with 90 percent of customers spending more with companies that provide it. One perfect example is something as simple as a CSR reviewing a customer’s history at the beginning of a conversation. Even a representative simply introducing themselves at the start of interaction can be a relationship builder, setting the tone for a positive customer experience.
A full 92 percent of consumers will spend more with a company that doesn’t make them repeat information and instead offers them a streamlined “conversational” interaction, ideally one which can provide seamless service across multiple channels. And the statistics support this idea–more 70 percent of customers expect high-quality conversational CX experiences when engaging with brands.
Simply put, customers want what they want, when and how they want it, and the quicker yet more personalized, the better.
How Senior Management Views CX vs. Actual Investment Levels
A high percentage of leaders–73 percent–directly link business performance to customer service with 72 percent considering CX a top priority. They recognize that at times, a CSR might be the only human connection to their brand. However, only 60 percent have a C-suite executive owning CX and 46 percent of these organizations are lacking a three-year strategic customer service plan.
Leaders of high-performing companies, on the other hand, are more cognizant of their customer service teams’ intrinsic value. They are 7 times more likely to view CX as a driver of revenue, 6.2 times more likely to strongly agree their CX funding has kept pace with company growth, and 5.2 times more likely to strongly agree that their company puts adequate funding toward CX.
In today’s evolving business reality, it isn’t enough to just talk the talk. Driving better customer experiences is crucial. In 2021, 51 percent of customers were increasingly one-and-done, willing to take their business elsewhere after only one negative experience. Just one year later that number has jumped to 61 percent! And after two bad experiences, more than three-quarters of customers will be walking out your door...and walking through the door of your competitor.
CX Buy-In: a Must at Every Level, Starting at the Top
Only one in five CSRs are expressing a high level of satisfaction with the quality of their training. Most would agree this is a dismally low statistic. And 65 percent of customer service representatives report that their performance would improve and that they would feel empowered to reach their full potential if provided with more skills-based training. They, as well as everyone throughout the company, could also benefit from a better understanding of performance indicators like first response and average handle times, Customer Effort Score (CES), and Net Promotor Score (NPS). And never underestimate the importance of your CX team’s feedback regarding potential improvements to tools and processes. As contributing writer Heikki Väänänen noted in a recent Forbes article, “Pride in one’s work is a powerful tool, something which can be activated by showing an employee that their work is valued.”
To go all in and convince their entire organization to do so, company leadership must have a service-first mindset. Leaders have to actively and frequently review CX metrics and make them part of their organization’s larger strategic framework. They must monitor impact and performance if they hope to align in the closest way to what consumers need and want. In the words of Adrian McDermott, chief technology officer of Zendesk, “Being able to tie customer service to business growth is incredibly valuable and often what is needed to get leadership backing and the investment in customer service that they don’t have today.”
Is it time to take your customer service team to the level of delivering a world-class customer service experience? The quality-customer-service-driving-sales trend is here to stay. Investing in your agents is investing in your business. And your economic growth depends on it.
John R. DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution, is president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies including Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Contact him at 216-839-1430 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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