Research shows that if customers receive a good service experience, they will tell two or three people. But if they experience poor service, they will tell around ten to twelve others! Customers are the core of every business and, thus, should always be your leading priority. And since online and word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals are often top drivers of new business, companies should strive for consistently high service levels.
Happy customers can help you build brand credibility and drive more business. According to research, 77% of customers will likely recommend a company if they have a positive experience. An investment in service experience can also lower operational costs, according to Harvard Business Review. After all, unhappy customers are expensive.
McKinsey & Company says, "Today's consumers do not buy just products or services - more and more, their purchase decisions revolve around buying into an idea and an experience."
That's why it's crucial to keep your customers satisfied and happy with great products and excellent service.
Improving an existing service experience
Service Design is a customer-centric, iterative, holistic approach to designing services with the purpose of improving customer experience. It refers more specifically to the process of orchestrating tools and internal teams to improve the consumer journey.
Improving service experience could have a significant impact on your bottom line. According to the Temkin Group, a moderate increase in service experience generates a revenue increase with an average of $823 million over three years for a business with $1 billion in annual revenues. A study by Walker shows that customers value experiences more than products and prices, and 86% of shoppers are willing to spend more for a better experience.
However, what often sets delightful experiences apart from average or poor service experiences is whether these services were designed specifically with the customer in mind. This is where service design improvement comes in. So if you want your customers to like your service, you need to deliver the best experience at all times.
Here are some strategies that can help you improve your service experience standards.
1. Study the existing experience in detail
Analyze the existing experience provided by the service. Unpack each step in the customer journey in terms of actions to be taken, touchpoints required, and emerging pain points. Studying the current experience journey enables you to capture the overall picture of the service experience, immediately highlighting the vital aspects that should be addressed with the redesign. This facilitates alignment within the business operation.
For complex services, developing a service blueprint from the analysis could help capture the important aspects included in the process itself and its relationship with the various touchpoints.
2. Seek and analyze customer feedback
To provide an excellent service experience, you first need to understand customer needs, experiences and pain points. For these, you must ensure that you offer your customers multiple ways to provide and share their feedback. This can be easily achieved through feedback forms sent via email or surveys. You can also establish a complaint system for customers to raise their issues. This will help you know and understand their ugly, bad and good experiences when interacting with your brand. You will also gain valuable insights into what you're doing well and which areas need improvement.
Connecting with customers to gather feedback also offers another critical benefit: it makes them feel valued and that you are willing to resolve their issues. This helpS establish trust and may also prevent them from sharing their negative comments and concerns on social media platforms.
3. Set specific objectives and goals to guide the vision
Before jumping into the ideation process, dedicate enough time to reflect on the results of the system analysis and experience, and identify the target goals you want to achieve with the redesign initiative. Service experience goals set the stage for your long-term strategy enabling you to maintain service excellence with long-term relationships with your current customers and build meaningful relationships with new ones.
However, goals only succeed if they are realistic, aligned with your objectives and include a clear strategy for achieving them. These goals could be transversal like "optimization of the information flows throughout the entire journey" or specific like "onboarding: from filling a form to a warm welcome." It's crucial to ground the objectives and goals into a detailed understanding of the existing state to set the right approach while being aware of the potential blockers and limitations to work around.
4. Generate ideas and solutions
Reflect and come up with ideas that could fix all the identified pain points in the journey or system gaps and capture interesting opportunities. These ideas could range from small improvements of specific functionalities to more comprehensive concepts that impact the entire service model. At this ideation stage, don't limit yourself regarding the number of ideas or feasibility. Capture all thoughts, share them with other team members and develop new ideas in the face of different thinking.
5. Leverage CRM platforms
Many companies experience challenges when establishing effective coordination among teams which often leads to poor service and customer dissatisfaction. To overcome this, businesses can streamline workforce processes using smart technology such as CRM platforms. Such customer systems help to ensure everyone is operating from the same page, which is essential in establishing top service standards.
Some of the benefits of using CRM software include:
- It offers helpful customer insights which can help you understand their needs, drive sales and provide a personalized experience to each customer.
- It improves interaction and engagement, helping you develop lifelong relationships.
- Your customers gain access to promised services and products, which improves customer satisfaction.
- Your service and sales teams can collaborate more, eliminating the chances of confusion.
- Most CRM platforms are easily accessible on multiple devices such as mobile devices, laptops and desktops. So you can assist customers anytime from anywhere around the world.
6. Use multi-channel servicing
Studies show that 69% of adults in the United States prefer brands that offer consistent service experiences across multiple channels. You should allow customers to shift between multiple channels while enjoying a consistent quality of service. This will help you boost your brand's credibility and reputation.
Here are some best practices to help you provide great multi-channel services to your customers:
- Mobile devices – Consumers expect good services on the go. You need to ensure your service experience and that support pages are mobile-friendly to meet their expectations.
- Social media – Many users turn to social networks for customer research and complaints. You need to utilize the power of social media to bridge any gaps between your brand and your customers. Improve response times on queries and provide practical solutions to your customers on social media platforms.
- Self-service – Customers expect brands to assist them in fixing minor issues by themselves and they will often seek such solutions on your site's FAQ pages. Such pages should provide easy-to-understand solutions to common problems.
7. Identify promising concepts
Use all the brainstormed ideas to define an action plan for the following steps. If the redesign project is simple, all ideas could be easily consolidated into a single redesign solution to be developed in progressive stages.
Sometimes you may end up with numerous ideas that can innovate the current service experience and it's obviously impossible to utilize or invest in all of them. In such cases, building an evaluation matrix can help you define criteria to analyze each concept, such as cost of implementation, value for the user, distinctiveness, etc., and score them as necessary. This will help you distinguish among the most promising ideas that could be easily developed and generate high value versus extremely simple ones that could nicely improve some parts of the service without creating a massive difference versus more complex innovation concepts that take more time and investment but provide high impact for excellent service experience in the long-run.
Benefits of improving service experience
Most organizations' resources (budget, time, logistics) are spent on customer-centric outputs, while internal processes, including employee experience, are overlooked. This disconnect triggers a common sentiment where one party does not know what the other is doing.
Improving your service experience bridges such organizational gaps by:
- Identifying conflicts: Service design and business models often conflict because business models aren't always aligned with the service delivered. Service redesign triggers thought and offers context around systems that should be in place to adequately provide a service experience throughout the entire product's life cycle and, maybe, beyond.
- Fostering difficult discussions: It's worth having focused conversations on policies and procedures about weak links and misalignment. This enables organizations to create collaborative and cross-functional solutions.
- Eliminating redundancies with a clear view: Mapping out the entire cycle of internal service processes allows businesses to have a bird's-eye view of their service ecosystem whether across sub-offerings or within one large ones. This helps identify where duplicate efforts occur, likely resulting in wasted resources and employee frustration. Reducing redundancies lowers costs, conserves energy and improves employee efficiency.
- Building relationships: Improving service experience helps align internal service provisions like processes, backstage actors, workflows and roles to the equivalent frontstage personnel. Information provided to one agent becomes readily available to all other agents interacting with the same customer.
Business is no longer about closing deals and making sales. Retaining customers is critical to having a successful operation. Without a good service experience, customers become dissatisfied, reducing opportunities and the brand name. With the growth of technology and digital transformation, customers access brands and their products with extensive research on the services provided. Hence, you need to develop a better service experience that offers great satisfaction.
Even with good reviews, there's no such thing as over-delivering an excellent service experience. There is always scope for innovation and improvement. You should consistently focus on improving your service standards. An excellent service experience can help you improve brand awareness, build trust, drive sales, gain customer loyalty and attract new business through positive recommendations.
Luckily, EHL Advisory can help to ensure you deliver complete satisfaction on service experience both online and offline. Contact us to find out how we can support your service redesign journey for improved experiences.