Thank you to Sean Hawkins, Customer Service Leader & Speaker, for making the time to do an interview with us on the subjects of customer experience and customer retention.
In terms of achieving organizational success, can you define the importance of the relationship between employees and customers?
If you don’t support the customer directly, you support those who do. Every department and every employee must understand how they impact customer experience. A customer centric approach is critical to company growth and their bottom line. Taken a step further, those companies who recognize their customers are partners, will be able to use this relationship to make better decisions and better products and services.
What are some common challenges you see companies facing in trying to improve customers experiences?
I think a big challenge is truly understanding who your customers are. It’s important to take a deep dive into your customer base to notice trends, personas and habits. Understand their motivations and goals so that you can aid them. Failing in this areas leads to failures in how you support them.
In your opinion, should companies concentrate their efforts on retaining dissatisfied customers or following new leads?
It’s easier to keep the customer you have than it is to gain new ones. For that reason, there should be a high emphasis on retention. But, the emphasis should be on identifying the pain points and removing them. This will reduce the level of dissatisfaction. Equally important is turning customers into loyalists and ambassadors. Help them help you generate new leads.
What percentage of companies, do you believe, invest sufficient time and money into measuring customer satisfaction?
I think most companies measure CSAT. It’s fairly easy to do. What they do with the results is a better question.
Typically, do companies that measure customer satisfaction act on the results?
I think those who truly value customer feedback and the impact of customer service will act on those results. However, satisfaction alone can be deceiving if the right questions aren’t asked. CSAT is a part of the Voice of Customer. On its own, it simply measures satisfaction. A better approach is to understand their needs and expectations. To do so gives you the ability to provide better service AND a better product.
Is repeat business assured simply by consistent, positive customer experiences or do businesses need to make each experience better than before?
I believe service plays a critical role, but it is not the only factor. Yes, you can increase customer loyalty and retain customers based on service but, your product or service must also match your level of service. This is where internal communication is important. Customer service must broadcast the VOC and advocate on behalf of the customer. An experience can be ruined by poor service but, excellent service can make a lesser product or service better.
Outline some key elements that should be thought of when creating a successful customer experience operating model.
For starters, you must have a clear definition of what excellent customer service looks like. Define success based on company values and customer expectations. You must also determine the appropriate channels to support. Provide channel support where there is a demand. Once that is done, you must measure success by focusing on the right metrics and KPI’s. Finally, you must have the right staff in place. It’s not enough to have smart people, you must have people in place who exhibit the right people skills and temperament.
Do all companies now need to adopt social media as part of their customer experience strategy?
No! As with any channel, offer customers support where they are. If there is no demand or expectation for social support, I wouldn’t do so just for the sake of having social media support. Sadly, most companies offer social media support but fail at being social. If you aren’t ready to engage customers and offer relevant content, social media is not for you. Social media support is more than answering questions. It involves dialogue, updates, and valuable content. When done correctly, social media support aids in the journey.
About Sean Hawkins
Currently the Director, Contact Center and Customer Service at Framework Homeownership, I have over 15 years of progressive call center leadership and experience in the public, private and government sectors.
I have led or consulted contact centers of various sizes across numerous industries. Additionally, I’ve implemented new technology and products, while maintaining award-winning contact centers.