Remember when you were in school and you had a teacher who graded on a curve? That meant that the highest grade in the class was considered the pinnacle, and all other grades were derived from it. You dreaded being in class with a “super brain” who would blow the curve far out, so that average test performances graded low in comparison with it.
As it turns out, customer service is a bit like that. Companies that offer poor or mediocre customer service really do have reason to resent companies that offer great customer service: and not just because the more stellar companies are taking their customers. As it turns out, expectations of high customer service cross industries.
According to a recent study published by Forrester (News - Alert) and commissioned by Lithium Technologies, customers who have had a great customer experience with one company have their expectations raised, and expect the same level of service from other companies, even those in different industries. The results come from Forrester’s annual Customer Experience Index, for which the company interviewed more than 7,500 consumers to rate their experiences with more than 150 prominent U.S. companies. Analysts use the feedback to calculate a “CXi” score for each company based on how well it meets customer needs, how easy it is to do business with, and how enjoyable it is to do business with.
In the case of the customer experience, it’s brands such as Amazon and Virgin airlines that are “blowing the curve,” or raising customer expectations with their high quality of service. While this presents a challenge for many companies, it also presents an opportunity for companies in industries with no clear customer service leaders, says Forrester, such as financial services.
“Visionary companies see increasing customer expectations as an opportunity,” said Lithium President and Chief Executive Officer Rob Tarkoff (News - Alert) in a statement, noting that companies that actively engage and enlist their customers in an entirely new way, inviting them to participate in the business as partners, can turn old business models on their ear and become “disruptive” companies on the customer service front.
Engaging customers means different things to different customers, the study found. Consumers in the millennial generation want businesses to engage with them over social media channels, with 41 percent indicating they want companies to provide customer support in those channels. Thirty-nine percent of these customers reported that they would like companies to listen to them and respond through social channels.
The message here is that the first company to get multichannel customer service right in their industry will unquestionably emerge as the clear leader in the pack.