It’s well known that good customer service plays a vital role in creating loyal customers. Despite this, the true importance is still underestimated by many companies. The recruitment decisions a company makes for customer service roles can have a critical influence on whether existing customers remain loyal in the future. Research by consultancy firm, Accenture and Randstad, showed that 69% of customers say they have ended a business relationship because they received bad customer service. Failing to keep service levels high can therefore have an incredibly damaging impact on a business. The issue isn’t as simple as it may initially seem, however. While most customer service team leaders would suggest that exceeding the expectations of their customers in this department is important, recent research suggests this may not be the case.
What to look for in a customer service worker
Bain Consultancy estimates that it costs companies six to seven times as much to bring in new customers as it does to retain existing ones. While the exact figure is often disputed, the central message remains relevant – the value of customer loyalty should never be neglected. It’s often assumed that bad customer service is only given when an employee is rude, lacks knowledge, or is unable to assist with an enquiry. While these obviously are examples of poor service, many managers neglect the other side of the spectrum. Research from Randstad UK, shows that customers also hate feeling patronised by false, or exaggerated, friendliness. It reveals that going to expensive extremes to exceed the expectations of customers – by offering free service to compensate for problems, as an example – only makes a slight difference to future customer loyalty. Almost nine out of ten of the service heads questioned said they aimed to exceed expectations with customer service. The research suggests that simply satisfying expectations is enough to generate loyalty.
The study concludes that good, loyalty-inducing customer service focusses on resolving issues completely, and eliminating the need for customers to make follow up calls, rather than anything fancier. This means it’s important to look for staff that are friendly and polite, but most importantly efficient, when attempting to fill customer service jobs. The research suggests that encouraging staff to go all out and ‘wow’ customers with their charm may actually be regarded negatively, challenging some of the accepted wisdom in this area.
Importance of contact centre recruitment
‘The Customer Service Impact Report,’ from Oracle, highlights why customer service needs to be a key focus for all companies. The report found that 86% of customers will pay more for good customer service and 89% of consumers had switched to a competitor after receiving poor service. Providing good service not only gives customers no reason to leave, and builds feelings of loyalty that generate future business, it also encourages new customers to pay for the company’s services. Recruiting the right people into customer service jobs, to provide quality service that keeps customers happy, will in turn keep the employer happy, as repeat business will increase and new customers – who are willing to spend extra to receive exemplary service – will hear about the company’s reputation and be tempted to switch loyalties.
My name is Richard Deeley, I am formerly Head of Customer services for a local borough council and now work as a freelance consultant for Randstad UK.