Lack of Consistency is Poor Customer Service

“Call when you say you will, show up when you say you will, and deliver what you say you will. Inconsistency destroys trust and trust is the foundation of all relationships.” – Paul Carrick Brunson

Customers now have many more ways to connect with a company, give the large number of customer service channels now available. For companies, this is an opportunity to increase their reach and visibility to a much larger customer base, and achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction. Research has shown that the adoption of several service channels has increased and is still on the rise. However, the rise of service channels also means that customers expect seamless service across all, and for them lack of consistency would translate to poor customer service. For companies, the challenge is to break away from the traditional methods and mind-set of operating, by removing the silos that exist between departments and channels. The inability to break these silos does lead to lack of consistency in the kind of service a company provides, which eventually irritates customers enough to leave. Consistency is a quintessential part of good customer service and the overall experience a company provides to its customers. Lack of inconsistency however, leads customers to stop trusting a company and even anger them enough to spread negative comments and leave the company. Many such incidents would obviously be very bad for the company’s reputation and lead to lowered sales and revenue.

Irrespective of the channel customers use to contact a company, they expect consistent, uniform, and accurate responses – lack of consistency is never acceptable. Along with consistency in responses, customers also expect consistency in the timeliness of these responses – customers do not like to wait and are unforgiving of any disparity across channels. For a brand, lack of consistency would mean that it cannot be trusted and that it may be trying to fool or confuse its customers. Such feelings soon lead to customers abandoning the brand for good and letting others know about their frustrating experiences – thereby shutting out some prospective business for the company. Lack of consistency in the information that customers receive via the various channels, would mean that they would be forced to expend extra effort to get the right information by contacting the company a number of times – sometimes for a simple query. For a company, this translates to a drop in credibility and an increase in its service costs – a double whammy that could, in the long run, bring the company down. Many companies have got entangled in litigious situations with customers owing to wrongful information, misleading them to buy more, and other such accusations.

Lack of consistency does amount to providing poor customer service by a company. This inconsistency comes about when a company is divided and fragmented on the inside –departments working as individual units and relying on several different sources of information to respond to customer queries and problems. Without a centralized and automated knowledge base that can be accessible to all those who need it within the company, it would be near impossible to provide standardized and consistent information. With each department using their own sources to get data in order to serve customers, consistency would be hard to arrive at. We have mentioned in an earlier exposition that every department is in some way connected to providing speedy and accurate responses to customers. For example – if the logistics team does not have an updated and speedy system, it would not be able to feed back information to the service teams for customers enquiring about the delivery of the products bought.

Despite lack of consistency being a major cause of customer ire and churn, research has revealed some shocking statistics – only about 23% companies are able to provide consistent information via only 2 channels, and only 8% were consistent across three. The larger chunk – 69% of companies failed to provide any consistency and responded either through one channel or not at all. Worse still, the attempts to provide answers across channels, failed miserably as they were inconsistent and did not match. Irrespective of the industry or sector, customers expect and demand that the companies deliver consistent responses and service across channels. They want to see commitment of the companies and this can be achieved by companies choosing the channels to support based on what customers want, rather than the resources they currently have. Putting customer needs first is what great customer service is all about.

There is no doubt that lack of consistency is a major cause of concern and annoyance for customers, and for companies it does, over time, translate to hugely elevated customer service costs, springing from repeated queries, costs to compensate wronged customers, and even costs related to losing customers. It would be a lot better for a company to focus on increasing consistency to provide top class service. What steps has your company taken to remove the lack of consistency in its customer service efforts?

We believe that the most important thing for a company is to invest in a CRM system that will allow it to have a centralized knowledge base, making consistent information available to all those within the company who deal with customers directly.  A consistent and updated database will increase efficiency and the speed of responses provided, leading to happier and trusting customers. In addition, this centralized knowledge base would serve to break the barriers of department and channel silos. Each person within the company would have access to the same information, ensuring that irrespective of the channel customers connect, they would receive the same consistent response and timeliness on all.

In the effort to provide top class customer service, a company must remember to integrate all channels and touch-points such that even if a customer were to switch channels during a single interaction, they would receive consistent responses. The agents managing the various different channels too, would be able to track the customer’s communication route, and respond to them without wasting time. They would be able to tailor their answers depending on the customer’s queries rather than repeating the information that customers would have already got or asking the customers to repeat their ‘history’ each time.

Customers are more connected and tech-savvy now – they know what they can expect and want companies to keep pace with them and comply. With a growing number of customers accessing information on the go and through their smart devices, it makes good business sense for companies to ensure that whenever and in whatever manner customers connect with them, they should be able to provide the customers with prompt, accurate, and engaging information each time. Customers expect that they would be able to connect with a company using a channel of their choice, and yet have positive and interesting experiences. Lack of consistency on the part of companies leads customers to frustration and even making the decision to switch to a company that can manage their demands.

For a company lack of consistency does not just push up customer service costs, it also increases their costs to retain their existing customers (offering incentives and compensation for poor service) and added costs to attract new customers should the existing ones leave. It no longer suffices that a business adds more channels and communication tools – what matters is bringing in and sustaining consistency across all channel in order to guarantee great service and experiences – leading to happy and loyal customers.

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