Thursday, May 24, 2007

More on Customer Service--Or Lack Thereof...

Seems to be a hot topic this week, and rightfully so. Accenture performed a study that rated customer service from technology companies. Surprise, surprise, the news isn't good.

See this ComputerWorld article. "Survey: Consumers see Little Value in CRM."

The article reports that many consumer technology companies are alienating customers with less than excellent customer service. "73% of those surveyed said that merely "average" service would prompt them to consider evaluating products of other vendors."

Wow--it's never good to be in the position of losing almost THREE-QUARTERS of your customer base! If I was facing that kind of risk, you'd better believe that I'd take a serious look at customer service and make sure that my retention programs were up-to-date and robust.

More findings from the survey:

Accenture’s research also exposed several additional areas of poor customer service and consumer dissatisfaction. Among the findings:

* More than four in 10 customers surveyed (42 percent) said they had to access customer-service channels multiple times to resolve their problems.
* More than six in 10 customers surveyed (61 percent) said they believe that technology has not improved customer service.
* The vast majority of consumers—78 percent—said the service they receive is “at or below” the level competitors offer.
* Companies are wasting millions of dollars on customer-service initiatives that customers don’t view as important, particularly self-service capabilities.

Hmmm. Perhaps it's true, people really do like to talk to people. There's got to be a middle-ground between self-services that actually DO make your life easier (like being able to renew your library books via an automated service, instead of having to visit in person) and those that don't (like NEVER being able to reach a live person when you call your bank).

Companies need to seek out that middle-ground that balances the correct use of self-service technology with live, real people help, always with the customer experience and customer satisfaction in mind.

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