Posting in Sustainability
In late January, Accenture released a rather startling and unsettling statistic as part of its ongoing research into consumer expectations. It is simp...
In late January, Accenture released a rather startling and unsettling statistic as part of its ongoing research into consumer expectations. It is simply this: a whopping 66 percent of consumers switched companies during 2011 as a result of poor customer service. Wireless carrier, cable companies and utility providers were particularly vulnerable to this behavior.
Accenture's research canvased consumers in 27 countries and across 20 different industries. The survey found that a mere 23 percent of the consumers surveyed felt "very loyal" to his or her provider.
Commenting about the survey, Robert Wollan, managing global director for Accenture Customer Relationship Management said:
"Companies are improving many of the most frustrating parts of the customer service experience., but they are facing a customer who is increasingly willing to engage multiple providers for a service and is apt to switch quickly. While high-quality sales and service in area such as product knowledge and efficient issue resolution remain a basic requirement, in order to achieve sustainable, profitable growth, companies must better understand what really keep their customers engaged by examining a number of overlooked, but critical points of interaction in the customer relationship."
I read this statistic mere hours before speaking earlier this week with a technology executive who was just appointed to a brand-new position within her company, Chief Customer Officer (CCO). Anne Bowman works for customer service technology and communications company Voxeo (which makes interactive voice responses software among other things). She is one of roughly 450 executives who now hold that title throughout the world, according to the CCO Council.
When I spoke with her last week, Bowman said her role encompasses responsibility for the marketing, sales, professional service and human resources functions -- not just customer service.
To be fair, Voxeo is focused on serving customer service and support needs, so it SHOULD have this role on its organization chart and it SHOULD be encouraging other companies to follow suit. But increasingly, there many be justification for your business to add this role, too. Here are 3 big things would-be CCOs should ponder:
- It's not just about your customers, it is about your employees. Bowman said that her job isn't just to keep a pulse on what customers are saying, it is to ensure that employees are excited about the company, too. That comes down to creating a "culture of volunteers," she said. In a nutshell, that means you need to make sure that your staff wants to actively promote the business, regardless of what they they are being paid. They need to want to help customers. If your staff is unhappy, that will show up in terms of a poor customer experience.
- There is a direct relationship between customers and revenue. "Support is not a cost center, it is a revenue-generating center," Bowman said. Offer your customers a good support experience, and they will be willing to talk about it -- especially since so many companies do it so badly. Find a way to help them get out of "voicemail jail," and they'll be particularly happy. That is why businesses should not necessarily seek to cut costs in their call center by outsourcing, no matter how tempting the financial argument.
- Many companies have notoriously low Net Promoter scores. This is a system that measures how likely a person (if your company is a B2C entity) or another business (if you are B2B-focused) is to recommend working with your organization. The scale is between 0 and 10; you can't count on "promotion" from anyone who is less than a 9. Your overall score is the percentage of Promoters minus the percentage of Detractors (anyone who scores less than a 6). According to the Bowman, 75 percent is a world-class rating but the average is 10 percent. Do you know where your company stands along this metric?
(Image by Ray Smithers, courtesy of Stock.xchng)
Feb 5, 2012
As a customer rep in the electric utility industry for three years, I have experienced first-hand front line frustration with the disconnect between business practices and processes and customer needs and customer experience. This is exactly what the role of the CCO promises (I agree, it is not assured) to eliminate by bringing customer strategy into the C-suite, where the highest levels of strategy are set. Think of the CCO as bringing not only the voice of the customer, but the voice of the customer's in-house champions to the attention of executive management, including the board of directors, and further, leveraging those voices in a way that actually impacts policy and procedures to be more customer-friendly. This can result in not only a better experience for customers and employees, but improved business and profitability. The C-suite will never care about or truly understand anyone's experience - customer or employee - unless or until that experience is translated into the language of profit and loss, which is the basis of [i] its [/i] experience (not to mention, its compensation) and a powerful, though not the sole, measure of business health. Who better to effect that translation than a named CCO? This role, where it is appropriately fulfilled, both signals to people and informs them of the customer's value and priority to the business and its success.
It's not just cable , cell and other companies of this type, it's everywhere, just try and call for assistance, you have to go through the battlefield of the automated system, and then when you get a live person you are shuffled from dept. to dept. If you are really unlucky, somewhere in the process you get cut off and have to start all over. By the time you get to tell you problem for the 3rd, 4th or 5th time you are very angry. I have responses from What do you want me to do? to the Oh I am so sorry. In some cases they have done away with the phone system altogether and you have to do the live chat or wait for the email. Without the customer the company cannot exist. We don't live in a vacuum, we do talk to other people, and believe me we tell other people when we are angry. So that letter of complaint you toss in a file or throw in the trash is being talked about elsewhere. Some people even post their complaints on their webpages.
Just another executive position to pay bonuses to. The responsibilities of this position are duplicates of existing management roles. How about we try something off the wall instead? Enable the customer reps to do their jobs, give them the authority to actually deal with customer issues instead of acting like a roadblock. Let customers talk to someone in authority if the rep can't. Until the call centre is actually focused on meeting customer needs as opposed to meeting service guidelines of completing a call within so many minutes things will never change. STOP pretending the customer is important and do things to show them they ARE important. Companies don't need another layer of management, they already know what they need to do, they're just too cheap to do it.
Adding another upper level position won't help. Start listening to the employees who bear the brunt of complaints, support their efforts to satisfy customers at the lowest level, and if customers want to speak to managers, get them real managers to talk with.