I’m going to hit you with some bold numbers:
- 53 percent of customers would rather research on their own and make their own decisions rather than talk to a sales representative, and 65 percent prefer word of mouth.
- 80 percent of companies think they offer great customer service — but only eight percent of customers agree!
Customers are getting sick of dealing with companies shoving how great they are down their throats, and will turn and run if they get a whiff of a sales pitch — but, if they do invest, they want to know that the companies they put their money into actually care. It’s a delicate balance that shows just how much social networks and review sites have empowered the customer, and how much customers crave a human touch that focuses on education rather than selling.
You may be thinking, “Why should I care? I’m only in IT.” But here’s why you should care: Approximately 80 percent of a business’ revenue comes from just 20 percent of their total customer base. This means that it should be the business’ top priority to make their customers happy and keep them coming back. As an IT professional, you have a unique insight into what the customers are thinking and feeling; it’s already a part of your DNA and processes to receive feedback based on your services.
And that insight is particularly useful today, because the industry is no longer existing in the Age of the Business — it’s the Age of the Customer.
Age of the Customer
Thanks to the influx of technology in the enterprise and the constantly evolving tools used, it’s no longer word of mouth, but “world of mouth.” What this means is that customers have new opportunities to engage with companies, whether it’s leaving a review or tweeting their dissatisfaction. Hard sales no longer work, and people are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to detecting a sales pitch. On the flip side, it means that there are new ways to connect with customers, including potential leads — but the tactic and approach is critical.
Remember that one time you got really good customer service? Of course you do! There’s always that one company that treated us exceptionally, and that happens so rarely that it stands out in our minds. Many have become so accustomed to dealing with the worst companies that when a representative provides what we deem as “superior” customer service, it really makes an impression (looking at you, Comcast). It makes you want to keep coming back and putting your money into that brand.
While it may not be possible to engage with each and every new lead that comes through social media, it’s okay to be selective about who to really invest in. Those 20 percent that make up the majority of your revenue? They should be really, really happy. There’s a huge opportunity for IT to become a leader by leveraging what they know about the customer, what they like and dislike, and how to fix problems that arise.
Leverage Your Customer Insight
IT is on the frontlines every day, and as a result, you have a particular type of insight into what customers want. You’re not getting on calls to sell a new product or feature — you’re helping the customers who have already invested in your product get the most out of it. You’re probably already tracking issue trends and discovering larger underlying issues, and you have a general sense of what the customers like and dislike. This also means that you probably deal with a particular brand of customer, namely: The Hater.
You know the type. They frequently send in issues, they don’t seem to be satisfied, they may have even left you a bad review on a public review site. However, they keep renewing their contract! What’s up with that?
This may sound weird, but: Treat it as an opportunity for you to take a constructive and critical look at your product, and see if there’s some truth to what they’re saying.
If it seems like online reviews are either from the people who really love a product or the people who absolutely hate it, you’re right on both counts. A group of unhappy customers only make up 5 percent of a customer base, and as for those other 95 percent? They’ll vanish without a trace, and without giving a company the opportunity to improve. They won’t write a review, and they may not even contact a representative about their problems. That’s why the service desk can be a platform for the majority to have their voices heard, and for you to treat them with care.
Love Your Haters
As Jay Baer, one of the foremost advocates for putting the customer first in business, says: Hug your haters.
The next time you get an influx of frustration from a disgruntled customer, don’t laugh it off. Use your insight to pass along that information to the other teams within the company. If it’s a ticket that’s just a simple misunderstanding of a feature, tell the marketing team so they can write up a blog about it. If it’s a feature that truly impedes a customer’s work, tell the product development team so that a new solution can be found.
Remember, it’s easy to brush off a customer by thinking that they’re just looking for something to complain about. But the enemy isn’t the customer who’s telling you what they want — it’s the customers who will leave you without warning. So be proactive by sharing insights into what your customers really want.