Your company probably has great customer service, right? Most companies actually fail to live up to customer expectations, and instead totally overestimate how good their service is.
According to "The Customer Experience Index, 2012" released by Forrester, there is a huge disconnect between the customer service your company thinks its providing, the customer service your customers think you are providing, and the reality between the two.
The study found that 80% of companies say they deliver superior customer service. However, only 8% of people think these same companies deliver customer service worthy of a superior rating. In fact, only 37% of brands received good/excellent customer experience index scores in 2012.
So what does this tell us about the state of customer service in the US? It tells us that roughly 63% of companies simply have no clue what their customers want. They are drowning in assumptions about what their company’s customer service experience is like with no real knowledge of their customer’s expectations. We've discussed in the past how to improve customer service by looking past the myths of customer service, and this is the same idea.
Think about it: if you don’t understand your customer’s expectations, how can you expect to meet them or even exceed them? A company must know it’s customer’s level of expectations for the following reasons:
- Do less than customers expect and service is bad
- Do exactly what customers expect and service is good
- Do more than customers anticipate and service is perceived as superior
Service is What Your Customer Says It Is
It is important to know your customers’ wants and needs before you provide customer service to them. If you do not know, then you are guessing. Guesswork makes dissatisfaction inevitable.
Knowing your customers (and the power of their complaints and concerns) so you can give them what they want and keep them as customers costs money. But spending money on something that pays off in profit shouldn’t be a problem for a company.
When dissatisfied customers complain to you, or, as more often happens, they switch their business to your competitors without complaining, you learn what they do not like. Hindsight is 20/20 and makes little difference if an organization doesn’t learn from experiences and make corrections. Far too often no learning occurs and companies continue to alienate and lose customers.
The Sometimes Fatal Assumption
You may have been good at predicting customer behavior in the past, but remember that it is not what you think you know that is important. It is what your customers think that matters. Good service has nothing to do with what the provider of services believes it to be, unless these beliefs coincide with the attitudes of customers. Meeting the expectations of customers is the definition of customer service.