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Outstanding Customer Experience Is Still Your Top Service Goal
It ranks ahead of cutting costs or adding new technology
For the rest of the May 2016 issue of CRM magazine please click here

Companies are investing more in customer service initiatives, yet customer complaints about service quality seem to be increasing. Too many companies appear to have lost sight of the value of their customers—without customers, there is no business—and consequently think they can treat customers however they want.

Thankfully, though, a growing number of organizations truly care about and want to satisfy their customers. This is clear from DMG Consulting LLC’s recent research study. In December 2015, DMG surveyed contact center executives and managers and asked them to identify their service goals for 2016. Two hundred and sixty-one individuals from companies around the world elected to participate, reflecting the market's strong interest in delivering an outstanding customer experience, a trend that became apparent in 2015.

DMG Consulting's study identified 26 service initiatives for 2016, which can be grouped into eight categories: productivity/cost reduction (23.3 percent of the initiatives), service quality (21.8 percent), channel support (16.9 percent), staff-related issues (10.5 percent), analytics (10.2 percent), revenue (9.2 percent), technology (4.2 percent), and compliance (3.9 percent).

TOP 10 SERVICING GOALS FOR THE YEAR

According to our survey, here are the top 10 service goals:

1. Delivering an outstanding customer experience (62.1 percent). Like last year, this is No. 1, but the difference this year is that even more executives and managers selected it as their top goal, a positive trend for the market.

2. Improving productivity (58.6 percent). That this is No. 2 and improving customer experience is No. 1 is not surprising, as many of the top service initiatives also serve to enhance those two areas.

3. Reducing the cost of service (49.8 percent). Since contact centers, customer service organizations, and back-office operating areas are people-intensive, which is expensive, managers are understandably under pressure to reduce costs. The challenge is to find a balance between cost reduction/productivity improvements and delivering an outstanding customer experience.

4. Increasing the use of self-service solutions (48.7 percent). This is an excellent example of a type of initiative that reduces operating costs and improves the customer experience.

5. Reducing customer effort (43.7 percent). This goal appeared for the first time in 2015 and continues to pick up momentum. It is about putting customer needs first, which represents a major change for many companies and will go a long way toward improving the overall customer journey.

6. Enhancing reporting/analytics (36.4 percent). Managers continue to search for the information and insights they need to improve the overall service experience.

7. Improving customer retention (34.5 percent). This goal moves up and down in importance based on the state of the economy. But it should always be an area of investment because it is a good indicator of service quality.

8. Enhancing customer engagement (31.4 percent). This initiative is tied to customer retention; companies are investing in ways to keep customers actively involved.

9. Improving cross-departmental coordination (30.3 percent). This is the first time DMG Consulting has seen this initiative show up in the top 10. It's an indication of the growing recognition that great service is necessary throughout the entire customer journey and is not the sole responsibility of the contact center.

10. Enhancing staff engagement (28.4 percent). Executives who appreciate the strong correlation between customer and employee satisfaction are investing in ways to keep their staff engaged.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Enterprises are investing more in their service organizations, and they expect to see results. Although productivity and cost savings are demonstrably important to executives, the top goal for service organizations in 2016 remains a familiar one. Senior executives clearly appreciate that delivering great service is the responsibility of everyone in the company, and so it is time to break down functional and departmental silos to reduce customer effort and improve the overall service experience.


Donna Fluss (donnafluss@dmgconsult.com) is founder and principal of DMG Consulting, a provider of contact center and analytics research, marketing analysis, and consulting.

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