14 Mar Contact Customer Service? I’d Rather Clean the Toilet
Such is the reaction of more than a third of participants from ages 18 to 65 in a customer service survey conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics and Aspect Software. Rather a severe judgment!
Granted the study Consumer Experience Revolution 2015: New Research on Millennials and Technology Shows Customer Service Is About to Change Forever was a consumer survey on customer service. But as is argued in Accounts Payable Customer Service and Vendor Relations in the Age of Self-Service, positive experiences in our private (consumer) lives tend to transfer higher expectations over to our business lives. Hey, if Amazon knows exactly what I ordered, why don’t you? (Did you know that UPS now shows you, on an online map real-time, the location of the truck bringing your package to you?)
So it is that accounts payable’s customer service faces high expectations in its interactions with its internal and external customers as a result of those customers’ experiences elsewhere in their lives.
The survey referenced above, repeated in 2016 and 2017, looks for generational differences. Businesses are trying to learn to serve customers across different generational groups. But the general dissatisfaction with customer service is trans-generational!
Patience with waiting for customer service is getting shorter, as expectations for better, faster service continue to rise. The survey reiterates the important point that customer service equals customer experience.
Of course, those organizations that do “customer experience” well — e.g. Amazon and Zappos, raise the bar for everyone. And according to the survey, 76 percent of Americans view customer service as the “true test” of how much a company values them.
While there is a strong focus in the survey on Millennials, who were expected to outspend the Baby Boomers in 2017 (that did not, in fact, happen), there are surprises in the survey. For example, one group emerges as feeling most underappreciated. Not the oft-criticized Millennials but the Baby Boomers. That said, 60 percent across all generations feel underappreciated when it comes to customer service.
A majority of Americans of all generations agree that their expectations for customer service have increased over the last three years.
The news is not all bad news. The survey also highlights a point or two that can be instructive in how accounts payable can bring value to its customer service.
A finding of particular interest in this regard is that across every generation, online customer service is the most preferred type of customer service, over such other options as phone, email, mail and especially IVR (interactive voice response) systems! And online self-service wins by a wide margin.
Important to note, however, is the importance of having a live person available if escalation is necessary — and in fact when broken out by particular options, only 11 percent would rather clean toilets than talk to a live person (but we’re pretty sure the 11 percent would just rather not talk to people, period!).
Another relevant point: “Self-service customer service that leads to resolution can actually increase a customer’s positive view of a company’s overall customer service.” Further, not only do customers feel good about the company when they’re able to resolve their question or issue through self-service, but they feel good about themselves as well. A win-win.
Of course, key to good customer service is that the customer gets their question answered or their issue resolved. Another caveat for escalation: they do not want to have to repeat their story — they want the record of the issue to be available to whomever they are passed onto. No one wants to have to repeat their story!
Some good advice on customer service — let those with ears to hear, hear.
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