4 Building Blocks for Improving Customer Service

When it comes to expectations, customers have become increasingly demanding. Their time is limited, and they have many choices. The stakes are high for winning them, retaining them, and ensuring that their word of mouth speaks enthusiastically about the value received from their relationship with you.

Succeeding in the marketplace requires listening to the voice of your customers throughout their entire journey with your business. The following four ways of listening to the customer are the building blocks for improving customer experience.

Customer Contact Monitoring. There are a variety of channels through which a customer can contact an organization. Some customers call into a contact center while others prefer self-service through a Web site or mobile app, which then might lead to an online chat, an email request, or a call for support. It is common for a customer to use multiple channels to solve a particular need. Best practices require channels to provide consistent information regardless of what they are. For instance, in the sales process, a customer might start on the Web to do some research before making a decision to purchase via a different channel. Across all these contact points, a firm must listen to the voice of the customer to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the interaction and determine the customer's emotional reaction to that contact. The business insights from these omnichannel contacts can provide specific, actionable ideas not only for enhancements to contact handling, but also for business process improvements and product modifications.

Social Media Monitoring. Organizations can't ignore Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or other social networks. Listening to and responding on social media is an opportunity to understand the customer voice on a different level. The content shared on social media is less predictable and certainly less controllable than other customer feedback mechanisms, as it can go viral quickly. Social media is an increasingly important "voice" of customers, and requires a plan for both monitoring and responding.

Customer Feedback. For consumers, it is routine to receive a request for feedback subsequent to a transaction, whether it's an airline flight, an online purchase, a call for support, or even just a Web site visit. Those detailed surveys, or more targeted satisfaction scores, provide a snapshot of customer satisfaction and/or willingness to promote you to others at that given point in time.

Market Research. There is unlimited news and independent third-party perspectives regarding the customer experience for any given industry, and often specific businesses within an industry. Every organization needs to monitor its brand reputation to understand how consumers perceive it. Businesses can examine their own brand perception as well as that of their competitors to update their customer service model and reflect what's working best within a particular industry.

Organizations must create a strategy that connects with a customer's end-to-end journey. Companies can use the insights gleaned from all sources of customer feedback to adjust their processes. It's important for businesses to pay attention to consumers even before they 

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