Mind the Gap: Do You See What Your Customers See?

"For example, while 66 percent of responding telco/broadband and retail banking companies claim they deeply know their customers, only 24 percent of telco/broadband customers and 41 percent of banking customers thought so."

As a customer service leader, one of the hardest things to do is to step away from the proverbial internal firefighting and look at your operation the way your customer experiences it. I’m not talking about a glance: I’m talking about a good, honest, hard look at what your customer sees, hears, and feels.

If you haven’t already done so, I challenge you to enroll, sign-up, opt-in, or whatever it is that your customer is required to do, and then take some notes. That way, you can truly evaluate the process through the eyes of your customer.

You may be surprised at what you find: A recent study of more than 1,000 consumers and business decision-makers from key customer service-centric industries revealed that customer expectations are higher than ever, and service has not come as far as we might hope. In fact, 74 percent of the decision-makers admitted that their customer service initiatives are stuck in “getting the basics right,” while consumers are demanding more personalized experiences.

The gap

Obviously, there’s a gap between how well businesses think they perform versus what their customers actually go through. For example, while 66 percent of responding telco/broadband and retail banking companies claim they deeply know their customers, only 24 percent of telco/broadband customers and 41 percent of banking customers thought so.

Another 20 percent of telco/broadband and six percent of retail banking customers felt these businesses didn't know their preferences at all. That knowledge, however, is critical if companies want to anticipate customer needs and personalize the customer journey.

From personal experience

The other day I went to lunch with a close friend and colleague. I used to run large CS centers and the switched to consulting, while my friend stayed in operations and manages a center for a healthcare company. We talked about the need to evolve – to meet the needs of our customers, to make self-service more intelligent, and to offer a great customer experience.

He hung his head and said, “Ben, half of our interactions are through email. We have no way of connecting a customer’s email to their account without printing off the email, scanning the email and eventually attaching it to a share drive by customer name. Evolve? Ha!”

His story is not unique, and many organizations today struggle with the “How”. How do you move forward? How do you progress? How can I take time out of my tactical day-to-day to change the direction of services? Stepping back into the mind of the customer, these are not questions you can afford to ask any longer.

Evolution is a reality

Think about Darwin. He stated that things slowly evolve over the course of many centuries. Unfortunately, organizations like yours don’t have centuries to get it right. But the evolution we’re talking about is the matter of evolving your customer service by simplifying it:

  • Automating processes to anticipate customer needs.
  • Making intelligent suggestions.
  • Allowing for easy changes as the business evolves.

Questions you might consider:

  • Is your enrollment process short and simple?
  • Do you have Web self-service that is intelligent, mobile, and helpful?
  • Can you connect all the paths/channels that lead your customer to you (Omni Channel)?
  • Do your customers have to explain themselves over again each time they contact your center?
  • Can you look at interaction history and know what happened without opening multiple systems?
  • If a customer was upset with your service and posted it on a social site, would your center proactively contact the customer to resolve the complaint?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you aren’t evolving your service operation.

The time has come

There’s no time like the present to start that evolution and take the customer experience to the next level. You can exceed customer expectations and elevate your organization in the eyes of the customer, and you can take the first step by watching this video.