Executive Interview : 2012 Customer Service - Exclusive Interview With Brian Flagg, Senior Client Account Executive at Cincom
In your opinion, do you believe the customer service you get today from other companies is better or worse than it was say 5 years ago?
Despite all of the focus on customer satisfaction in the past several years, I have seen no real improvement. There was a study performed a few years ago stating that 80% of executives thought their company's customer service was good, but only 8% of customers thought so. I don't think the situation has changed much.
Do you believe there is a correlation between the service you receive as a consumer and your loyalty to the supplier?
In a competitive environment with low switching costs, there is a tight correlation for me. As switching costs rise, I weigh the perceived level of improvement of switching against the costs (financial and personal) of switching.
In your opinion, which industry sectors provide great service and which ones are poor?
Service in the retail sector, especially for large purchases such as appliances and automobiles where competition is high, has a great deal of focus and is generally quite good. Service in non-competitive industries such as healthcare and utilities, has little focus and I find generally not good. There are exceptions, especially in the utilities industry where there is competition and hence customer service has had the needed focus and has improved.
Can you recall a really good experience recently - where you were WOW'd by the service you received?
Actually from my insurance company in Florida. I have a house insured and need to add flood insurance. I called and the staff at the company was very helpful, said they would call back a couple of hours later, and did, and had all of the information I needed to make a decision.
Talking about bad experiences, where do companies go wrong with the service they provide?
Strategy Maps, as introduced by Kaplan and Norton, describe two external perspectives, financial and customer. I believe many contact center organizations do not understand the value they provide, or should be providing, in these two perspectives. The internal perspectives, operational and organizational, are much easier to measure and manage and this is where contact center leadership by and large directs its focus. Contact centers need to understand their external value, develop measurements for that external value, and then align processes, management and rewards towards those external measures of value. There needs to be a minimum of three; financial value (e.g. cost, revenue, profit), customer value TO THE COMPANY (e.g. retention, acquisition, advocacy), and finally value to the customer (right services, right channels, right hours of operation).
Have you noticed any differences in service from people from different cultures?
Expectations vary based on cultural expectations and norms. When working across the globe, I used to set ASA based on a given abandonment rate (5%). I found this to vary by geography depending on the tolerance of the caller to wait for an answer. I have also found satisfaction to vary by geography.
If you had to give just 1 tip regarding the use of technology in relation to improving customer service, what would your tip be?
Companies are trying diligently to move contacts to web self-service. I have found web self-service to be generally poor and getting worse instead of better. Simple functions are difficult to locate, buttons often do not work, testing has not been adequate across the browsers (IE, Chrome, Mozilla, etc.) so that self-service operates differently across browsers, and in many cases doesn't work.
If you had to give just 1 tip regarding staff in relation to improving customer service, what would your tip be?
Work on engagement! Make certain you have measures of your external value documented and communicated, both downward and upward. Tie recognition to value.
If you had to give just 1 tip regarding business processes in relation to improving customer service, what would your tip be?
Align business processes toward maximizing your value measurements, not towards internal measurements.
In your opinion, how should contact centers measure the level of service they give? Please explain in detail.
Level of service drives two value measures; customer value to the company, and service value to the customer. These are very different, the company value of customer value might be acquisition and advocacy (as measured by NPS for example). The value to the customer should be defined by the customer; is the mix of products and services offered right, is the wait time about right, do you offer service in the channel the customer wants to use?
Lastly, can you share with us one of the worst customer service experiences you have experienced recently
I was having trouble with my satellite box connect to the dish/service. I called tech support and the agent had me try several actions, each which took several minutes, and we were no closer to the problem, and all he wanted to do was to keep working on it rather than admit he could not resolve the problem and move it to level 2. I finally had to break him off and end the call and call in again at a later time. Thankfully, my second call went much better, problem solved in about 4 minutes whereas the first agent had me on the phone for 40 minutes. He either wasn't following standard process, or one didn't exist (my experience tells me it was the former).
Cincom Systems delivers software and services to simplify complex business processes. For more than 43 years, we have empowered thousands of clients worldwide to outperform their competition by providing ways to increase revenue, control cost, minimize risk, and achieve rapid ROI.
Published: Monday, May 07, 2012
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