The power of consistent customer service
People are creatures of habit — they enjoy knowing what something is going to be and then having it be that way. As a result, people's happiness with any given experience is usually based on the expectations they have carried into it.
This makes consistency of service a fundamental attribute of excellence of service.
Below are a few reasons consistency is important and why focusing on basics is a first step to creating consistent experiences.
Customers expect consistency among channels
In a recent post, Forrester's Kate Leggett discusses the expectations customers have. Whether they're researching a product, making a purchase, or working with the customer service department, customers want a consistent experience during every interaction, regardless of the channel they're using.
For larger businesses with a digital presence and/or customer support, many people begin their experience by visiting the company's website but then move on to interact with the organization through other channels. If the perception of the organization formed through the customer's online research does not align with the way the rep handles the phone call, that person may never visit a physical location or make a purchase.
Consistency across channels is just as important for current customers as it is prospective clients. When a customer contacts the customer support or the management team for the first time, their experiences must be aligned with the expectations created in the other experiences they have had with the company.
Consistency can drive satisfaction
Alfonso Pulido, Dorian Stone and John Strevel of McKinsey & Company authored an article on a recent survey that found "measuring satisfaction on customer journeys is 30% more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for each individual interaction." What the authors gleaned from these findings is that consistency plays a big part in customer satisfaction throughout the customer journey. An interesting takeaway was that consistency created a positive emotional response among customers that was likely to increase their satisfaction with a company.
There are many companies who rank high in consistent customer experiences. One company that provides a consistent experience throughout the entire journey is Zappos. Here are just a few ways that Zappos does this:
- The website is beautifully designed, easy to use, and easy to navigate.
- The ordering and returns processes are simple and thoroughly communicated.
- Email communications are timely, friendly, and provide useful information.
Throughout each touch point in their journeys, customers experience the same ease of interaction, simplicity of process, and helpful communication that characterize Zappos' delivery of service and that they expect from Zappos. When Zappos fails to live up to its own brand promise, you can bet that customers notice.
All about customer service basics
It's easy to forget about the basics. All organizations are under pressure to change, to grow, and to innovate, and often this occurs at the expense of the fundamentals. Delight and amazement are important service objectives, but when companies dedicate their energy trying to WOW customers before they have made sure their basic service ducks are in a row, the benefit of those WOW moments are often negated.
Is it better to simply provide a consistent experience for every customer, or to WOW some customers while you drop the ball for others? The goal, of course, is not to have to choose between the two, but the first priority should always be making sure that the basic service offering is being delivered consistently.
Often, just giving customers what they want in a friendly, timely and accurate manner is all you really need. And if you can do so consistently, you can create significant competitive advantage.
(Photo by Rusty Clark.)
Adam Toporek Adam is a Customer Experience Strategist and owner of CTS Service Solutions, a customer experience consultancy that helps organizations deliver Hero-Class Customer ServiceTM. Adam is a customer service speaker, founder of the popular Customers That Stick blog, and author of a forthcoming book on frontline customer service (AMACOM Books, Spring 2015). www