How Good Is Your Customer Service?

Ask yourself these five questions to find out.

Written by Brad Birnbaum
Published on Apr. 12, 2024
How Good Is Your Customer Service?
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
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Many consumer companies have kicked off the year with ambitious brand-building plans, engaging in rapid content creation, using generative AI and experimenting with augmented reality and virtual reality to deepen customer engagement.

Equally critical and often overlooked are brand experience investments that cover the other end of the customer lifecycle — the more complex customer service experience. Poor customer service can be costly, if not devastating, to a growing brand.

No modern brand intentionally overlooks service. But, even with the best of intentions, results can vary widely and much can be learned from some to the most public cases, both good and bad.

3 Customer Service Statistics

The statistics are clear about the importance of getting service right.

  • 85 percent of consumers say they would avoid a brand that provides poor customer service.
  • Almost 60 percent say they would pay extra for outstanding service.
  • 76 percent expect companies to follow up if there is an issue with their order.

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Customer Service: Asset or Liability? 

A breakout customer service moment that goes viral can be a huge asset, potentially more valuable than any paid media campaign or targeted investment you make to share your brand story.

Take, for example, the 2023 story of a Delta flight attendant who went above and beyond to comfort a nervous passenger, sitting in the aisle of the aircraft, explaining every sound and bump and even holding the passenger’s hand to provide reassurance. The story not only went viral, but was eventually featured on Good Morning America, reaching millions of viewers.

On the flip side, a botched customer service interaction that goes public can quickly become a liability, rapidly degrading the very same investments being made to accelerate customer engagement.

Back in 2022, for example, Air Canada received a barrage of bad press after reneging on a refund promised to a customer by an AI chat bot. 15 months later, Air Canada was the subject in a new round of negative press for the same incident when a Canadian tribunal came out with their ruling in favor of the customer.

While the shelf life of this particular controversy may be well above average, it puts into perspective the high cost of service gone bad.

 

The 3 Ingredients of Modern Customer Service

Behind each of these examples and in nearly every company is a set of data, a system/customer relationship management tool and rapidly advancing AI tools that can either make or break the service experience you deliver to customers.

When optimized, these tools have the power to deliver the best of personalization, automation and efficiency. When critical components, such as customer history, company policies or system integrations break down, we open up our companies to the many risks associated with suboptimal service.

In a world of intense competition, rising customer expectations and rapid technological advancements, companies need to regularly assess how well they are delivering on their brand’s customer service promise. What may have worked six months ago could be the new crack in your system if you don’t get ahead — and stay ahead — of these trends.

 

How to Perform Your Own CX Audit

The good news is that your own customers are your very best barometer to monitor the strength of your customer service function. Start by asking these five questions.

 

Do Your Customers Feel Like You Know Them?

You built a brand that speaks to the values of your customers. Now your customer service experience must do the same. Show your customers that you have full insight into their connection to your brand.

Like bumping into an old friend who remembers your spouse’s name and your favorite sports team, your company should have easy access to a timeline of each customer’s interactions they can call upon to deliver truly compelling service experiences — the money that they have spent with you or the fact that packages are sometimes delivered to a neighbor with a similar name.

Bringing a thorough and chronological view of your interactions is exactly the kind of exceptional service customers are willing to pay a premium for.

 

Do Your Customers Feel Like You’re Proactive?

In the realm of customer service, the approach you take can make all the difference. Proactive customer service is like a trusted friend who knows you so well they anticipate your needs before you even realize them. It’s about staying one step ahead, offering solutions and support before you even have to ask.

On the other hand, reactive customer service is more like a reliable safety net: there when issues arise. While both have their place, proactive service shines for its ability to build stronger relationships, showing customers you truly understand and care about their needs.

Proactive customer service requires a robust system for managing customer data and using automation tools for personalized outreach.

 

Do Your Customers Feel You Respect Their Time?

The best way to show customers that you respect their time is to provide efficient solutions to their problems. Sophisticated AI language models, along with your company’s support content, can automatically and immediately solve an increasing number of customer issues with safe, accurate, conversational answers, reducing the time to resolution and creating a great customer experience.

Understandably, we also see a lot of emphasis on the cost saving impact for brands. We even spoke to a customer who reported that, within one day of AI implementation, 10 percent of chat conversations were handled without any agent interaction.

But what gets less attention is how much customers appreciate these highly effective self-service tools. Especially Gen Z, with 77 percent of consumers under 25 saying they find chatbots to be helpful.

 

Do Your Customers Have Easy Ways to Reach You?

Automation may be a great fit for some people and situations, but others require a human touch. Your platform should identify the need or preference for human support quickly, without leaving customers exasperated by the time they get to one. 

And we now have the technology to give human agents special abilities. Company information and policies combined with AI enables agents to access answers more quickly and accurately than with traditional databases. These AI tools help them craft professional responses, and can even automatically translate responses from one language to another.

 

Do Your Customers Feel You Resolve Their Issues?

As happy and comfortable as we want customers to be, what they’re really seeking is resolution. Start by ensuring that you can actually track and manage this important metric.

Move beyond legacy customer success metrics like call deflection and build in metrics tied to the ultimate outcome, like resolution rate or cost per resolution. Take it a step further and begin to view CS through the lens of a marketer, examining how improved service is impacting key metrics, like email open rates or reorder rates.

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Fulfill Your Brand Promise

Companies should continue to think big when it comes to the many new ways to build brand equity. But the small touches — proactively providing shipping updates, greeting customers armed with their history, automating refunds — will be some of the most important aspects of your customer’s journey.

Trust your customers to be the best gauge of how well you are delivering on your brand promise and make the most of what technology has to offer. Then, deliver on it. 

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