Getting Maximum ROI from Customer Service

“The overriding factor for consumers will be trust. – a high level of trust will result in a good customer service ROI. Consumers have to trust a supplier to deliver against its promise. Whether that is providing the best price, being available when needed, or getting a response to an inquiry,” – Customer Champions

We have discussed at length, the importance of customer service and a plan to ensure that a company not only serves its customers well, but also is able to achieve its business goals. With limited resources and a shrinking market, getting maximum ROI from customer service initiatives is absolutely critical and imperative today. Smart companies would ensure that their customer service strategy would include ways to measure whether and or how much return they would be getting on delivering top class customer service. Market and CS experts do however, say that measuring customer service ROI is one of the harder things to do for any company, there is no ‘magic stroke’, and yet, it is vital. Statistics, we know reveal, some ‘scary’ information – it is about 4 to 6 times more expensive to gain a new customer as opposed to retaining an existing one; 20% of existing customers are responsible for 80% of a company’s revenue; and increasing customer retention by even 5% would increase a company’s profitability by over 75%.

No company can remain in business without ensuring that its customers are placed before all else, and maximum ROI from customer service can only be got by providing consistently top class service. The reason this is so challenging for companies is because, customer service is not something that can be put together and left to work on its own. In fact, customer service is a series of relentless efforts and activities aimed at continuously enhancing customer satisfaction levels, in order to convert customers to loyal brand ambassadors. Customers have different needs, different expectation levels, and hence their ‘state of satisfaction’ would differ. It makes no sense for a company to have an ‘umbrella strategy’ for all customers – maximum ROI from customer service will never be a reality. Companies seem to lack understanding and planning capabilities on how to execute relevant strategies that would get them maximum ROI from customer service.

Companies must remember several things with regard to customer psyche and expectations. The most important is that customers expect individualized treatment – they want to know that a company understands and appreciates their business. Customers expect that companies would ask for their opinion and feedback, not just on service but also on products and services offered by the company. In order to gain maximum ROI from customer service, a company must be able to provide top class experiences each time to its customers, and everyone in the company should be responsible for ensuring and enhancing customer engagement. The better the experiences a company is able to create for its customers, the higher its chances of converting an increasing number of customers to brand advocates. The culture of a company must support service excellence, in order for a company to get maximum ROI from its customer support efforts.

We know that customer perception is their reality, and does become the reality for the company too, since what customers believe about a company is what makes or breaks it. The responsibility of influencing customer perception and behaviour in its favour lies with a company. It is essential for every part of the company to be customer-centric and focused on the needs of the customers – only when all parts of a business work together, would it be able to give customers exactly what they need and want. The only way for a company to show uniqueness and differentiation in today’s marketplace of similar offerings, is through service excellence. Doing so, with not only get maximum ROI from customer service, but also ensures that the company will gain a formidable reputation, and build strong and lasting relationships with its customers.

Today, building and sustaining durable and engaging relationships with customers is synonymous with growth, profitability, and long-term success.  Several companies have come to understand this, and when asked, at least 81% said that a sound understanding of the needs and wants of customers is one of the top ways to gain maximum ROI from customer service. The other aspects that respondents pointed out were that putting customer feedback into action would gain high ROI (74% respondents), while 68% said that having the right staff is the road to gaining maximum ROI from customer service. Today customer service has become less about the actual products and services, but more about how customers ‘feel’ when they interact with a company. Customers want emotional connections, and highly personalized interactions in order to feel warmly and attached towards a company. If this emotional bond in the company’s service were missing, customers would most likely leave even if the company’s products were top quality, and pricing of them were competitive.

Trying to implement a customer service strategy for maximum ROI, without first ensuring that all processes, operations, and employees were aligned with the thought process of providing top class service at all times. The success of a customer service strategy would depend on the mind-set and approach of a company and its employees, and unless everyone understands engagement, emotional intelligence, and customer bonding, gaining maximum ROI from customer service would be extremely tough. Irrespective of which team / department a person works in, every employee of the company would be connected indirectly or directly, with customers. For example – customer service representatives would rely on the logistics team in order to let customers know the status of their shipment, or they would need the finance department to help customers with billing and payment. Hence, in effect, the logistics and finance departments also would be responsible for ensuring top quality service to customers.

There is no formula or secret to dealing with all customers, and neither is there a sure and straight-line path measure the true value of customer service a company provides. However, it would be necessary to understand what companies believe to be crucial in gaining maximum ROI from customer service. It is certain that the company’s employees deliver most customer service related tasks, and hence it is no surprise that among the top criteria for getting maximum ROI from customer service, employee dependent ones are the most important. Companies believe that is essential to source and hire the right employees, ensure that these employees have sufficient training and development opportunities, and that the employees are empowered to use their skills and knowledge to help customers without waiting for too many approvals.

When a company is consistently able to display its commitment and dedication towards its customers, the elements of trust and dependability would build over time in the minds of customers. Customer trust is one of the major factors that would contribute to a gaining maximum ROI from customer service – this would be true for any company. Customers today have very low attention spans, and even lower tolerance for anything other than what they want and need. Dissatisfied customers can prove to be extremely damaging, spreading negativity for a company to a very large audience, via social media, and other online platforms. A company, would therefore, not only lose the one customer, but also could potentially lose prospective customers. Gaining maximum ROI from customer service or completely failing at it would depend entirely on the attitude, mind-set, and approach of a company. Where does your company stand with respect to this aspect?

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