Providing Great Service in the Face of Rising Customer Expectations

smiling woman talks on the phoneYour customer service agents are the face of your organization. They nurture relationships with existing clients, troubleshoot your products, and are available to answer questions whenever a customer needs to get in touch.

Being a friendly voice on the phone isn’t always an easy job. Some problems are hard to solve, and frustrated customers aren’t always easy to talk to. In fact, customer service is notorious for being a high burnout job; according to the Harvard Business Review, the average call center turnover rate is as high as 45%. That’s about twice the rate of other jobs.

However, the job isn’t getting any easier; 60% of service professionals say customer expectations increased during the last few years. Buying habits during the pandemic have changed the expectations of individual consumers and enterprise clients alike: customers expect prompt, accurate answers, seamless service, and excellent digital service.

The challenge is meeting those expectations while retaining your hardworking customer service staff.

The impact of customer satisfaction on your business

Customer expectations have been on the rise for some time now. Your buyers expect exceptional service and if they don’t get it, they’re not afraid to go elsewhere — 48% of customers say they have switched brands for better customer service.

If they’re about to leave, disgruntled customers are unlikely to give you a warning: only about 1 in 26 complain to the company. That doesn’t mean unhappy customers aren’t complaining about you, however; 13% of unhappy customers complain to others, both in person and online. Which is exactly the bad publicity you don’t want.

On the flip side, strong customer service pays dividends: 94% of customers say good customer service makes them more likely to make another purchase. Keeping those customers around is healthy for your bottom line; according to Bain & Company, improving customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by 25 to 95%.

What do buyers expect from your customer service reps?

According to customer service agents themselves, they’re increasingly being seen as brand ambassadors, by both customers and their organizations. This means that customers are expecting a lot from your team.

  1. Expertise: We all expect to be able to get answers to any questions immediately. Google, voice assistants, and the internet give us most of the information we need whenever we need it. When a customer has a more complicated question, they expect the same service; 83% of clients expect to interact with a live human being immediately when they get in touch with your organization and 83% of customers expect to resolve complex problems through one person.
  2. Quick response times: No one likes to be on hold and no one likes to wait for an answer they need. Agents are expected to provide quick and accurate responses, so much so, that agents are having a tough time being both quick and thorough. Reports show that 78% of service agents say it’s difficult to balance speed and quality when helping customers.
  3. Personalized service: Customers now expect personalized interactions and tailored solutions. In fact, 73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations, yet 56% say most companies treat them like a number.
  4. Seamless service: Customers don’t want to tell their story over and over again. They expect your team to know their story: how they came to the company, what issues they’ve had in the past, and what their preferences are. Agents need to work across departments to understand each customer’s journey with your company and make personalized recommendations.
  5. Emotional intelligence: As expectations rise, customer service agents must navigate challenging and emotionally charged situations effectively. Developing emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills helps agents handle customer frustration, dissatisfaction, and complaints in a professional and empathetic manner.

Training for better customer service

Increased expectations can put more pressure on your customer service agents. In order for them to support your customers better, your team needs support from you in the forms of training and enablement.

  • Communication: Your customer service team needs to be proficient in communication; not just with your customers, but with their colleagues in other departments. They should also be able to connect with customers via several channels, including voice, chat, and other modalities.
  • Balancing speed and quality: Customer service teams shouldn’t have to choose between providing speedy service and providing quality service. By giving your teams the training they need, they can learn your product as well as skills like multitasking that can help them work both quickly and well.
  • Soft skills: It can be hard to provide service with a smile when emotions are running high. People skills training can help your team bone up on interpersonal skills so that, even in tense situations, they’re able to help customers and represent your brand well.
  • Product and company training: Your customers expect reps to be experts when it comes to your product and organization. They should know the customer, know the customer’s problems, know everything about the solution they’re selling, and know about your organization’s stance on a range of issues.

Customer service reps are on the front lines when it comes to helping – and keeping – your clients. They deserve the best support and training possible so they can do their jobs. By investing in them, you’re investing in your customers’ success and happiness.