ClickSoftware | 08.11.16

Editor’s note: This is the first post in a two-part series. View the next post Use Service Personalization to Grow Customer Lifetime Value later this week.

Bob Seger's classic hit, "I Feel Like a Number" aptly describes how many customers feel about their relationships with their service providers. In these days of personalized service experiences from providers like Uber and Amazon, it's apparent that consumers want a more personal relationship with their providers. More often than not, however, you'll hear people say, "My phone/cable/utility company doesn't have the slightest notion of who I am." The result: stalled growth, expensive marketing to back fill customer counts, and ultimately revenue loss.

The ramifications of those laments can be seen in the findings of the Rockefeller Foundation indicating that "68% of customer churn is caused by valuable customers who feel neglected." This statistic was reinforced in Accenture global customer satisfaction report that states, “Price is not the main reason for customer churn—it’s actually due to the overall poor quality of customer service.” Obviously, that feeling of neglect leads to increased churn and revenue loss for organizations that ignore their relationships with their customers.

With the advent of CRM technologies in the 1990s, the concept of personalization was all the rage. Although personalization was an exciting concept it was initially extremely difficult to execute, resulting in missed opportunities that ultimately led to the abandonment of those efforts. However, technology has since caught up with the concept; companies can now easily personalize their relationships with their customers to slash churn rates—to the mutual benefit the provider and their customers.

Getting Personal

Mobile technology provides the flexibility to develop bi-directional communications with your customers. Even if an individual customer has not acted upon your marketing messages for personalization, your CSR can offer the option of receiving updates on their field service appointment at the time of the service call. Depending upon your call volume and adoption rates, your reps could even execute the customer profile settings when they are on the phone with a customer—providing a value-add service that will continue to pay benefits for years to come. Regardless, remember that you need to make the process frictionless.

The last thing a customer wants from a product or service that rarely needs servicing is another app on their device. This is easily avoided by texting (or emailing is that’s the customer preference) a web hyperlink when service is required that offers that same tracking capabilities as seen in the now-familiar Uber.

Even with an attractive two hour appointment window, customers still can feel frustrated when they don’t know when during those two hours the service professional will arrive. Not knowing the answer to questions like, “Do I have time to take a shower, put the baby down for a nap, or run out to get a sandwich?” can greatly affect their satisfaction even before the service professional arrives. And their frustration level only increases as that 120 minute service window begins to dwindle. These frustrations can easily be addressed by accurately and continually informing the customer of their service professional’s ETA.

Keeping It Real—In Real Time

Keeping the customer informed with service ETAs throughout the day can eliminate the friction and allows the customer to add specific, personal information back to the technician such as “Please don’t ring the bell, but knock because the baby is asleep.” A forgetful customer can respond that they inadvertently overlooked their appointment, or had something come up; allowing your schedulers and dispatchers to slot another task to the tech for further business efficiency.

If your organization doesn’t already have one, it is highly recommended that you bring on a seasoned Customer Success executive. It’s crucial that you have a senior, strategic leader in place to design, implement and quantify the results that an effective and personalized service experience program can have on your business.

A 2016 Aberdeen report on Service Excellence found, organizations that have a Customer Success Officer in place receive an 89% customer retention rate vs. a 52% retention rate for those that don’t.  In addition, service workforce utilization improves 11% when a dedicated service executive is in place. Improving performance numbers like these—on both sides of the service equation—are the kinds of numbers that your customers will appreciate; as your management and shareholders most certainly will as well.