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What Customers Really Want

Simple Solutions for Improving Customer Service and
Boosting Customer Loyalty

For years, brands have focused their customer service efforts on going above and beyond perceived customer expectations. A study completed by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) brings up an interesting and different paradigm — the idea that what customers really want are quick, simple and easy solutions to their problems.

The HBR study reported that "96 percent Simple Solutions for Improving Customer Service and Boosting Customer Loyalty of customers who report putting in high effort in their service interactions are more disloyal, while only nine percent of customers who expend low effort are more disloyal." Such striking figures are certainly compelling, and may cause managers to wonder if they should reexamine their customer service programs.

The real-life application of this HBR paradigm has yielded two important lessons:

  1. Reducing customer effort does not require a tedious re-structuring of service departments to implement.
  2. The best results are achieved through the training and empowerment of front-line agents.

Companies have seen success by adjusting agents' training to focus on making interactions as easy as possible for customers within their existing service framework, while simultaneously empowering agents to independently resolve customer issues rather than having to transfer calls or get supervisor approval.

Contact centers are a crucial element in any high-volume customer service structure. For brands that employ contact centers, simplifying customer interactions at all touchpoints requires skilled agents that can anticipate and adapt to customer needs and deliver higher first-call resolution (where customers' issues are fully resolved within one call).

Key to the development of these agent abilities is the quality, content and frequency of their training, as well as the empowering of agents to make decisions and follow-through on them. If these elements are fully leveraged, agents will be able to personably engage with each customer and guide them to timely and satisfying resolutions.

Ultimately, the contact center agents on the front-line become the bottom-line determinants of customer experience and loyalty. By simplifying customer interactions, brands can simultaneously reduce costs, boost loyalty and satisfy their customers.

We hope you found this month's Dialogue informative.

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