Dr. Gunter Eberling, head of customer value management at 1&1 IONOS, addresses four pillars every tech business needs to implement to put customer service at the top of their agendas
The tech sector has a customer service problem. According to 2018 research by PwC, only one-fifth of consumers identify technology companies as providing the best digital customer care experience. The picture for online business services is even bleaker, with just eight percent of consumers giving their customer services the seal of approval.
Consumers are also more likely to penalise companies for poor customer service more readily than they will reward those who do it well. Over half of consumers actively choose not to buy a product or service from a company again after a bad customer service experience.
With tech and internet-based businesses lacking a physical store presence, and therefore limited touchpoints with a customer face-to-face or on the phone, it has never been more important to excel at customer service.
So, what can tech businesses do to ensure a loyal and happy customer base?
Here are four ways to help your business embrace a new corporate mindset that puts a robust customer relations strategy first:
Recognise customer satisfaction comes first
Customers form the basis of everything you do. Without them, your business wouldn’t be up and running. Most tech companies will agree that user experience (UX) is at the heart of everything they do already. However, all too often this customer-centric approach is sacrificed in favour of short-term profit goals and meeting cost targets.
Consistent undermining of a customer-led approach can make employees question the sincerity of how important client feedback is to upper management. Employees must be properly incentivised to consider their customers’ needs first. Strong customer retention and satisfaction will drive financial success, so ensure that it’s defined as a clear priority and employees understand what success looks like for your business.
See your customer’s perspective
Once customer satisfaction has been defined as the top priority, encouraging employees to constantly think from the customers’ perspective must be made routine. For every decision, for every new product idea, the key question that must be answered is: what is it like from the customer’s point of view?
To make this easier for employees, try introducing a physical manifestation of this concept; dedicating a space within your office for employees to sit down in, where they can remove themselves from the corporate environment and reflect on things from the customer’s point of view.
Monitoring feedback can’t be limited to a single customer touchpoint. Basing business decisions and product development on feedback received only via one consumer survey doesn’t provide a comprehensive understanding of your consumer landscape.
All feedback monitoring has to be supplemented by real-time human analysis of social media, direct customer conversations and customer insight outreach. Don’t avoid negative responses; these are what help shape future business changes for the better.
Implement a culture of personal responsibility for cross-functional teams
Embodying the customer and preempting their needs isn’t always easy when employees are working day-in, day-out across the same departments, becoming ingrained in their approaches.
To combat this you should encourage all employees to work in customer care for a day to witness customer questions, needs and problems first-hand. Urge your colleagues to talk to real customers. It doesn’t have to involve an expensive focus group, just time dedicated to customer outreach that in turn generates invaluable feedback.
The online-only business services sector is ever-growing. By 2020, 60-70% of all business’ software, services and technology spending will be on cloud-based platforms. So as customers increasingly continue to migrate their business data into the cloud, it follows that they’ll increasingly demand more robust customer service.
This is why it is essential that we consistently align with customers and embrace individual feedback as part of an overall customer service approach. Yes, that’s work. And yes, it can’t be done overnight – it’s a marathon and not a sprint. But anyone can start training for it today.