Negative customer experiences present an opportunity to show your brand’s dedication to resolving any issues with transparency and empathy. Martechvibe asked the CX stalwarts how to deal with customers on edge
It’s a human tendency to share more when we’re unhappy about things. Here’s proof; just 30% of happy consumers will talk about their positive experiences with a company’s goods and services, while 46% of dissatisfied customers will talk about their bad experiences.
A disgruntled customer can be a learning opportunity for a brand to use the feedback to fix areas of friction in the customer journey that may affect other customers in the future. If left unattended, the negative repercussions are many; it can affect CSAT scores or lead to customer churn. Angry comments on social media can lead to a downward spiral for a brand, impacting not only its reputation but also the bottom line.
Dealing with negative CX is another responsibility in the CXO’s belt, one that needs cross-functional teams to pay attention to and address.
The role of the chief customer experience officer has evolved over the last few years to encompass people, processes and products. CX is seen as a brand differentiator that drives business decisions and acts as a liaison between cross-functional teams that may or may not deal directly with customers. It includes a predictive element that aligns product and service design with customer expectations to ensure a sustainable business future in an increasingly competitive and ever-changing marketplace.
Protect the first impression
Each early interaction helps new customers form their impression of the organisation. When there are problems early on, they can be devastating to the long-term relationship, says Adam Toporek, a Customer Service Expert for CTS Service Solutions. “While context is important, new customer incidents should be given some form of elevated status as a general rule.”
Stop the snowball
Empower team members to cut down response time. Steven Van Belleghem, Customer Experience expert and author of The Offer You Can’t Refuse, suggests speeding up the approval process by empowering employees. “If a shop assistant needs to ask the manager when a customer has a question, this is more expensive (time is money, right?) and less customer friendly at the same time. Empower them, save time and money, and increase customer happiness.”
Be proactive in problem-solving
Customer expectations have changed. This means that things that were not an issue last year could be a critical detractor for consumers this year. Take, for example, the focus on safety post-pandemic.
Firstly, acknowledge the issue and take responsibility for it, says Mohamed Hegazy, Director of Customer Experience at Almatar – Saudi’s Online Travel Agency. “Brands can then offer a sincere apology and solve the problem. Additionally, brands can use negative feedback as an opportunity to improve and prevent similar issues from occurring in the future. They should follow up with the customer to ensure the issue has been resolved satisfactorily. This shows that the brand values the customer’s feedback and is committed to providing a positive experience.”
Look for challenges before they escalate
Customer experience is closely linked with the product and brand, explains Tamer Elsabrouti, Director of Customer Service at OSN, a subscription-based streaming service. “A customer might churn or move to another competitor because of a single bad experience, even if they had previously loved the product. Brands can improve their customer experience to a desired level by considering customer feedback, surveys, and interactions, and thus build the most effective strategy to take the customer experience to the desired level.”
Investing in the future organisation
Though offering a seamless digital experience may seem more expensive in the short term – you have to invest money first to get there – it will save costs in the long term, says Belleghem.
On the agent side, agent experience drives customer experience. Teams need their agents to have a great experience and to be an inherent part of the organisation to reiterate the focus on customer experience.
Brad Cleveland, the author of Leading the Customer Experience: How to Chart a Course and Deliver Outstanding Results, links it back to the customer workload. “We need technologies that help us understand what that workload is when it happens, and what it takes to handle it; what channel is best for it, and what are we learning from it to prevent that work in the future through better products and services? That is a significant area of investment,” he says.
Technology investments that have employee buy-in are more likely to be a success. This may mean getting their input on innovation, helping them shape systems, having them participate in framing policies, etc. This works towards ensuring that frontline teams are in an environment where things make sense to them and where the systems are supporting them.
Can automation add empathy?
According to Maeve Condell, Customer Success Lead – Mid-Market at Ultimate, human-centred design starts with empathy, and empathy comes from understanding. Before a team builds an automated dialogue flow, get to know the customers: how they speak, what’s important to them, why they reach out to your brand and the channels they use.
Truly understanding your customers — and their pain points — is essential to delivering empathic automated experiences. “Then, once you start designing conversations, make sure your customers feel heard and understood. Have your bot repeat a customer’s concern back to them (“I’m sorry you’re having trouble accessing your account”) and show that you care (“that must be frustrating”). Your bottom line will thank you, too. By creating AI-enabled interactions that keep customers coming back again and again, you’ll drive loyalty and grow revenue.”
There is a challenge facing all brands, marketers and CX professionals equally – change. As Mike Wittenstein, CX Coach, Consultant, and Founder at Storyminers puts it, “Everything around us constantly evolves—supply chains, buying behaviours, technology capabilities, interests, and preferences. We are living in a blender of change, which presents a challenge for brands that typically rely on predictability to sell their products. Customers now expect more, different, and new things. As a CX leader, it is important to keep the promises that were originally made to them.” This involves forging relationships within the company to deliver the same promise in a new way. In order to succeed in this ever-changing environment, businesses must be able to adjust and remain calm.
CX NXT – the Customer Experience Summit took place on 14 March in Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Lucidya came on board as a presenting sponsor. Unifonic joined as a gold sponsor, WebEngage and Silah as sliver sponsors, and The CX Group as an associate sponsor. Exhibitors included CRM Middle East, Evam, and Netcore, with Tealium as the networking sponsor and Saudi CX Association as the supporting association.