Seventy-six percent of Americans view customer service as a true test of how much a company values them. On average, American adults have 65 customer service interactions a year.1
And let’s face the facts. Prospects and customers alike expect near real-time responses across virtually all engagement channels. Interactions impossible just a few years ago are normal today as a result of the accelerating pace of technological innovation, and they are made even easier to accomplish with small businesses outsourcing live web chat & over the phone support.
Yet more than 60 percent of prospects and customers feel underappreciated and undervalued when it comes to their customer service experiences. This has caused a shift in mindset. Customers are no longer brand loyal; they are loyal to the engagement experience of a particular brand.2
The Psychology of Customer Engagement
Positive experiences are relevant and meaningful—and most importantly easy. Companies need to enable prospects and customers to interact with them through consistent, engaging experiences. The impact cannot be underestimated. In a recent survey, 63 percent indicate their heart rate increases when they think about great customer experiences, and for those tested, 53 percent who received great service have the same cerebral reactions as feeling loved. 3
Companies that fail to deliver the experiences that meet or exceed expectations put themselves at serious risk. Consider the following data points:
- 70 percent of the buying experience is based on how the customer feels they are being treated.4
- 89 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a vendor because of poor customer experience.5
- It costs up to 7 times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.6
- At least 12 positive customer experiences are needed to make up for a bad one.7
Business-Life Balance Defined
Just as customers seek to maintain a quality of work-life balance in their lives, they also want a quality of business-life balance. Here, we refer to the interactions individuals have with businesses—in both their personal and professional lives. Subpar experiences degrade the work-life balance. It is more than wasted time; emotional frustration becomes psychological stress, prompting customers—and even prospects—to vent their emotions and even seek alternative solutions.
Demonstrating respect for a prospect or customer is an important starting point in helping them maintain a healthy business-life balance.8 Further, the amount of effort a prospect or customer needs to expend in the engagement with a company directly determines their willingness to purchase, repurchase, or advocate (or the opposite).9 Interactions between a prospect and customer are critical here, and missing a valuable opportunity repeatedly will only cost you more in the long run. Sixty-five percent who express a brand relationship affinity indicate interacting with the company “feels easy.”10 They also are four times more likely to feel the company knows how they prefer to interact.11 This is where a company like Davinci Virtual shines, because we help small & medium sized businesses outsource their customer service to our trained professionals.
So what should you do as a business leader to ensure your customers maintain a business-life balance in their engagement experiences with your company? Here are four recommendations:
- Respect their time and intelligence.
Needing to search for how to contact a company, waiting in a lengthy queue (phone and live chat), or being forced repeat answers to questions already keyed into the system prior to speaking to a human or given to another agent are examples of disrespect. At the same time, strong-sales tactics, condescending sales and customer service approaches (“know-it-all” agents), and curt, sarcastic, impatient, or even rude treatment immediately creates a psychological chasm that quickly expands in scope.
- Give them multiple engagement channels.
A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when it comes to prospect and customer engagement. The preferred channel of choice depends on the demographics of the individual making the inquiry as well as the nature of the question. Offering omnichannel engagement channels is a must. For simple questions, self service via an online knowledgebase or online community is preferred over engagement methods that require human interaction such as live web chat or phone. Yet in the case of more complex inquiries, human interaction is preferred.12 This is true not only for customers but for prospects, who often are more than 60 percent of the way through the buying lifecycle when they engage directly with suppliers.13 And studies show 45 percent will abandon an online purchase if they cannot find an answer to a question. 14
- Offer self-service.
Customers who answer their questions with online self-service often exhibit higher levels of satisfaction than those who answered their inquiries with human interactions. Sixty-seven percent actually prefer to answer their questions via self-service over direct interaction with humans.15 In addition, companies that neglect self-service options incur higher sales and operational costs. They concurrently lose opportunities to engage prospects in above-the-funnel education and research activities and to build customer satisfaction and ultimately advocacy.
- Include human engagement.
While prospects and customers seek self-service in certain scenarios, they want human interaction in other situations. For example, over half of millennials prefer to talk to a customer service representative than to use channels that don’t involve a human.16 It is important to note that human interaction necessitates the use of both digital (live chat, social networks, etc.) and phone channels. It is not an option of either/or but both.
Returning Balance to the Pendulum
The customer service demands on a small business are always growing. Not only do small business leaders seek to maintain a quality work-life balance, but their customers do as well—and a healthy business-life balance is an important part of that equation. Davinci Virtual understands both sides of this paradigm. Using our Live Receptionist, Live Web Chat, and Virtual Office solutions, tens of thousands of small businesses have returned balance to their work-life pendulum and their customers’ business-life pendulums. To learn more, give us a call, start a chat, email us or look through our FAQ for your virtual service questions.
We’re interested in hearing how you as a customer maintain a healthy business-life balance. Post your recommendations in the comments section below.