Why is Customer Success so Important in the 21st Century?
Customer service and customer success continues to be a big elephant in the room for many businesses. While most of today’s businesses have some level of training in customer service, many don’t take customer service seriously enough.
But data consistently show customers are increasingly focused on the level of service they receive when making purchase decisions. A majority of today’s consumers are prepared to switch if the service they receive isn’t up to standard. But what is behind the enhanced focus on customer service and can companies truly benefit from better customer service?
This guide will look at the reasons the 21st century is the century for understanding customer service.
In this article, you will learn about 1) what customer service / customer success is all about, 2) benefits of customer service / customer success, 3) the reasons customer service / customer success matters more now, and 4) some final thoughts.
WHAT IS CUSTOMER SERVICE / CUSTOMER SUCCESS ALL ABOUT?
Customer service is a concept most people in business know about, but not everyone truly understands its importance. Customer service is essentially a crucial part of the product or service your business offers, as it can directly influence the customer experience of the given product. This means that customer service is an important part of building the brand.
Customer service is often taken care of by special customer service representatives. In fact, most companies often have a specific customer service department, which deals with customer enquiries over the telephone, but increasingly also through different online methods such as e-mail and chat. While customer service representatives play a crucial role in nurturing customer relationships, most employees in the company need to understand good customer service. For instance, if you work in a retail business, the customer service of the shopkeeper is the first time customers create perceptions of the business and its customer service. Therefore, a good customer service culture must run through the whole of the company.
The concept of Customer Success has risen out of this increased importance of good customer service. The concept is about creating a proactive and organizational focus and approach to customer satisfaction. Customer success often looks at the different customer data points, such as user data, and helps improve the customer satisfaction across the different areas within the business.
Customer success is an important concept in all industries, but it is often especially mentioned in regards to Software as a Service (SaaS) sector. The sector also highlights the subtle differences between customer service and customer success. Customer success is often more focused on looking at issues customers have in real-time and the methods of managing issues so that customers can continue to extract maximum value from the product. As mentioned above, customer success is often about solving issues proactively, while traditional customer service is more about reacting to customer problems.
Nonetheless, businesses need to be aware of both of these issues and while the two concepts are not synonymous, the rest of the guide will look into the value of both in the current business climate. Good customer service will help customer success and likewise – in today’s technology driven world businesses cannot overlook either of these aspects if they want the business to succeed.
You can learn a lot more about customer service and customer success by looking at companies with exemplary service. Check out the companies in the below video for more information:
BENEFITS OF CUSTOMER SERVICE / CUSTOMER SUCCESS
Before we look at the core reasons that make customer service and success vital in the 21st century, it is important to understand the many benefits of creating a successful customer service culture. Businesses can enjoy from a number of tangible benefits if they place enough emphasis on these sectors.
Generating more profits for the company
For many businesses, the key reason to aim for good customer service is the financial aspect of it. A company, which takes the right steps to nourish customer success, will be enjoying more financial benefits to a company who thinks customer service is just an afterthought.
Consider the findings of a Harris Interactive study, which found that around 86% of customers stop doing business with a specific company solely based on bad customer service. If your customers aren’t happy with the level of service they receive, they are likely going to vote with their feet and spend their money elsewhere. What is significant of the study is how it showed the number of customers who do this has risen from 59% to the current levels in just four years.
Furthermore, data by American Express has shown that nearly 60% of customers try a new brand or a company just to find better customer service. In fact, 89% of customers often swap to a company’s direct competitor after bad service.
These above statistics alone should convince every company to focus efforts on proper customer service. Your business will suffer financially if your customers don’t feel the service is good enough. If you want to keep your customers happy, you need to focus on more than just the product and service.
Furthermore, as you’ll see below, many industries have moved towards a subscription-based service, which provides customers more ability to swap if they aren’t happy with the service they receive. With a proper customer success culture, existing customers are more likely to stay happy and continue using your services and products.
Data also shows, consumers are making an increasing amount of decisions based on recommendations. If your customers are happy, they are more likely to recommend your product and therefore, increase the customer-base of your business. All of this results in increased revenue.
Finally, the bigger the business the more known its customer service record is and this can influence its ability to attract investment. Successful customer service culture can be a crucial factor for investors, as it can provide more security in terms of business success and therefore guarantee better investment returns.
Improves employee satisfaction
But the benefits, in terms of enhanced customer relations, aren’t only financial and related to the customer. A successful customer service culture can also improve employee satisfaction. First, employees can benefit directly from better company finances. You are able to provide better financial rewards for your employees and they are likely going to feel more secure in their position. This in turn will also help improve customer service, as employee turnover is reduced.
Second, employees are likely to feel motivated because they can see the company cares for its customers and therefore also its employees. If you are a customer driven business, then employees will feel more motivated in fostering this culture and boosting sales. Focus on customer success instead of artificial sales figures, for instance, can directly help improve employee motivation. This in turn will automatically start boosting the sales figures as well.
Finally, a clear and robust customer service and success strategy will make your company more efficient. There will be clearer strategies in place to deal with problems, which lessens the burden on employees and make them feel more comfortable.
Helps to develop the product and service
Businesses that focus on customer service and customer success are also more able to guarantee the actual product or service is of a better quality. This is because of the better organizational efficiency mentioned above.
A successful customer service culture focuses on each aspect of the business and takes a holistic view of the company’s operations. This will make it easier to notice inefficiencies and to streamline operations to ensure customer satisfaction. The best way to naturally ensure your customers are happy is by providing them with a quality service.
In addition, your company will benefit from lower risk levels. As mentioned, customer success has a proactive focus on customer satisfaction and you are able to tackle problems at their root – before they turn into a bigger operational issue.
Furthermore, if, and when, problems arise, a customer service department is able to manage the situation and ensure it doesn’t turn into a bigger problem. The risk of failure won’t hang over your employees or your company.
THE REASONS CUSTOMER SERVICE / CUSTOMER SUCCESS MATTERS MORE NOW
While the benefits of customer service and customer success are plentiful, many businesses still don’t pay enough attention to good customer service. This is partly because in the past, companies were a bit less likely to suffer greatly even if they didn’t always put the customer first.
But the technological revolution has changed the way businesses need to look at customer service. The above benefits have become even more relevant and getting the customer service culture right can make or break a business.
The rise of social media
There are around 7.2 billion people on the planet and nearly 3 billion are active on the Internet. From this vast audience, around 2.1 billion users are on social media and nearly 1.7 billion of them are active on these platforms. Furthermore, the most recent survey by Pew Research showed that over half of social media users are now using multiple platforms and older generations are quickly increasing their usage.
But why do these statistics matter to a business? Today’s companies need to be aware of the ‘bad press’ mostly because of the rise of social media. Word about bad customer service is likely to spread a lot faster and further, as customers spend an increasing amount of time on social media. In fact, one study suggested nearly 39% of social media users actively give feedback on products and services they use.
As mentioned above, most people increasingly base their consumer decisions on recommendations and the image they have on the company. If your business has a lot of ‘bad press’, you are more likely to miss out on potential customers.
It should also be noted that consumers are more likely to voice out their bad experiences rather than the good ones. Social media has, for good and bad, allowed consumers to post opinions in an instant. Salvaging your business from the negative feedback is much harder afterwards and thus your business could greatly benefit from appropriate customer service to limit negative feedback.
But the rise of social media shouldn’t just be viewed through this negative lens. Businesses can greatly benefit from the rise of social media, especially if they focus on good customer relations on these platforms. This is down to social media being an important marketing venue for many companies.
In fact, successful customer service and customer success will be a lot cheaper for a company than having to put more effort into marketing. Dimensional Research found that while the proportion of people who share bad experiences is higher, 30% of consumers also share the positive experiences they have. These positive mentions won’t cost your business anything – you just need to focus on nurturing the right kind of customer service culture in your business.
Increased amount of decision made based on online experiences
The above has directly meant that more people make consumer decision based on online recommendations and comments. According to some studies, nearly 90% of consumers are influenced by online reviews when making a purchase.
If your business has a number of bad reviews and a culture of bad customer service, you are going to miss many customers based on the above statistics. On the other hand, you can also use a good customer service culture to your advantage and increase your customer base by simply focusing on receiving more feedback that is positive.
One of the key areas businesses still don’t focus enough is on the importance of online responses, especially on social media. West Interactive Infographic states that nearly 60% of questions and complaints on Twitter go unanswered. This happens even though studies have shown lack of answers can increase the churn rate for existing customers.
The effort of responding to social media queries is a lot smaller than having to market your company online because of bad reviews. Nearly a third of consumers use social media to enquire about the service or product prior to purchase and companies should tap into this market with enhanced focus on customer service.
Time is money
If there would be one word to describe the 21st century, it probably would be ‘fast’. Technology has made us impatient because we have everything at the tip of our fingertips. You don’t need to wait for the next day to buy yourself a pair of shoes, as online shopping means everything is available in an instant and products and even services will be delivered to your doorstep in 24 hours.
But this focus on speed has also challenged customer service and increased expectations have made it more relevant than ever. Surveys have continuously shown customers are expecting quick responses to their queries. Oracle’s 2012 survey highlighted how 80% of Twitter users expect companies to response within a day or less in instances of customer service inquiries.
As mentioned above, failure to respond can lead to customers taking their money elsewhere, so getting customer service right is essential. Businesses simply cannot take their time dealing with issues anymore, but need to react fast to keep customer satisfaction high.
Simply by focusing on customer service and the speed of response, companies are able to turn a problem into a positive feedback. Amazon’s focus on quick responses is a great example of a successful focus on customer service. The company’s response time metrics highlight how less than a 24-hour responses attract 50% less negative feedback to longer response times.
Enhanced opportunities to buy
Perhaps the most important reason why all of the above means customer service and customer success should be a key focus of companies is the increased availability of options. The 21st century is the century for businesses – not just the big corporations, but also the era of the small business.
The rise of the small business and the technological advances have meant consumers have much more choice available. Consumers are no longer forced to shop only in the shops in their vicinity, but they can shop from producers around the world in a click of a button.
This choice naturally means consumers are looking for more than just a good product. For example, your shopping decisions aren’t only based on the product, such as a shoe, but the overall shopping experience. The quality of customer service is an important part of the shopping experience and consumers are careful to pick companies that look after them.
Furthermore, many of today’s services and products are offered through the renewal buyout model. This means that customers subscribe to the product for a certain period and then decide to renew or move along at the end. With good customer service the likelihood customers switch to a new provider reduces. Consumers don’t generally like the hassle of finding a new service provider, but it doesn’t mean they won’t change if the service is bad.
Technological revolution has changed consumer behavior and businesses need to be able to adapt to this. Because consumers are now increasingly more aware, connected and more able to make decisions customer service and customer success have become increasingly important for businesses. Focus on customer satisfaction is essential for business success.
The advances in technology heighten the benefits of customer satisfaction. Whereas customers could bring their close family and friends to your business after a successful experience in the past, today’s customers could potentially tell the whole world your business is worth the money. Good customer service isn’t just about a happy customer; it is essentially about marketing your business to a whole new audience and ensuring your customers always return for more.