Poor response rates demonstrate the need for an integrated approach to customer service

Cast an educated eye around the internet and you’re bound to find companies restating their business mission statement for 2013. But if the New Year precipitates a rethink of core values, then it’s often the case that customers have expressed dissatisfaction with service over the previous 12 months.

Nowhere is this more evident that in the pre Christmas period, where shopping logjams and poor response from customer service channels can present a jaundiced picture of performance.

Given that these are factors known to influence customer perception, it came as something of a surprise to witness UK retail struggling to deal with the influx of telephone calls and communications sent either through online forms or email last month.  According to a Multichannel Customer Experience study conducted by Eptica, nearly 52 percent of queries directed to retailers via email did not receive satisfactory answers, and websites encountered similar difficulties – with only half able to answer the deluge of questions from people eager to resolve their queries before the season drew to an end.

Elsewhere the report was equally damning, as the results found that only 78 percent of companies made it easy for customers to contact them by email. In some cases, contact details had been completely expunged from the site, whereas in others they were buried many layers down away from the main shopping action.

It might be easy to dismiss the results as something akin to seasonal mania, but it’s worth pointing out that this was not the result of a short straw poll; on the contrary the information was compiled from 40 major retailers and encompassed product areas as diverse as food, electronics and fashion.

Whilst it would be negligent to say that such approaches to customer experience management are endemic to British business, it’s clear that there were issues to address. More specifically, it is evident that a culture of mutual benefit based on fluent open dialogue between business and client is essential for fostering real commercial and reputational gains.

How can this work in practical terms? Clearly, motivated human resources able to deliver the full experience are essential to achieving excellence; but the contribution of technology as part of holistic philosophy of service should not be overlooked. After all, in a world where messages from all over the planet can be instantaneously sent and received, preparing to maximise positive collateral from the interaction between customer, modern marketing channels and business is a crucial plank in establishing prominent market share.

Revive Management’s range of solutions can bring several customer service management tools together and provide metrics that enable business to send targeted customer satisfaction surveys, marketing emails and SMS messages, thus freeing up capacity and ensuring that the temperature of the customer base can be taken quickly and effectively.
The contact channels – which also include a hosted dialler and interactive voice messaging – run on a hosted software platform and provide the information required to build a cogent picture of how customers view the business.

Whichever approach companies adopt going forward, the take home message from last December must be that where honest endeavour fails, innovation often succeeds – and that is something that business should be looking to address throughout 2013 and beyond.

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