Consumers typically pick up the phone when they need to resolve an issue. And frequently, that’s after they’ve tried to find the answer on their own with no success. Depending on how long they have spent searching, you can imagine patience may be running low by the time they call, making that engagement especially challenging.
In fact, two-thirds of customers who encounter customer service problems experience feelings of rage, according to a 2017 survey by Customer Care Measurement and Consulting. Rage seems to be on the rise in other ways—even “rage rooms” exist now, which you can visit to blow off steam by demolishing breakable items, electronics or objects of your choice.
While no one can break or throw anything on a negative customer-service call, the outcome of a bad experience can be far more detrimental than broken glass. It can do serious damage to customer loyalty and brand perception if customers tell others about their experience.
Staying ahead of the game with a proactive strategy for combating customer rage will help you turn customers into raving fans. Here are a few useful rules of thumb:
The best problem to have is one that’s already solved. Improve your customer experience by addressing issues before your customers are even aware of them. Monitor the health of customers’ products and services. Act on trend data, or real-time data from connected devices, to better anticipate needs or spot problems as they’re happening. If you find an issue and fix it before your customer even knows they have it, they’ll never need to pick up the phone.
Another strategy is to take steps to anticipate customer needs so that when they do reach out, you’re already a step ahead. If you sell or manufacture consumer products, you can also take stock of your onboarding content for first-time users. Is it complete? Is it easy to find on the web? Can you push it to them proactively when they buy? Proper planning ensures customers can find exactly what they need, when they need it. And that makes everyone happy.
Improve self-service outcomes
Customers prefer self-service, but only when it works. To improve outcomes, offer connected experiences to your website that manage processes end to end. Simplify routine inquiries with automation, machine learning and virtual agents. If customers can’t find the answers they’re looking for, reduce their frustration by letting them escalate to a live agent with a simple click or tap.
Intelligent workflow technology can also work in the background to open a new case and route the question to the person with the right skill set to solve the problem, create additional workflow tasks as needed, and manage tasks to completion. You can also make sure the customer feels like they’re in complete control by letting them view and respond to open cases, check service notices, or get updates on product or service status anytime, anywhere and on any device. Giving customers control positively impacts their perception of your company and brand.
Personalize, personalize, personalize
When stress is high and time is short, customers have zero patience for slogging through irrelevant information to answer questions or resolve issues. Personalized self-serve portals are a great way to make sure your customers keep their cool.
Start by making it easy for them to view and track their orders, products, subscriptions, history or account details online. Shortcut their search for answers by proactively recommending articles based on the products or services they own, how recently they were purchased, or whether those products currently have service issues. Up your game by highlighting recent community postings related to their products or areas of interest.
The faster your customers find the answers they’re looking for, the happier they will be. The happier they are, the more likely they are to share that with others. In fact 72% of customers will share a positive experience with six or more people.
Solve the problem
Unsolved problems are one of the key reasons for customer dissatisfaction. In the same Customer Care Measurement and Consulting study, only 17% of customers who experienced rage were satisfied with the actions taken to solve their most serious problems. Bouncing from one agent to another and being asked to re-explain things was a key stressor. Lack of issue resolution was the other.
Technology can help you reduce this type of frustration dramatically by intelligently routing and categorizing cases and then tracking them to completion. You can also automate the prioritization and assignment of incoming customer service requests to quickly connect customers with the right agent to solve their problem. When further work is needed to resolve the issue, experts are engaged from across the whole organization, ensuring a positive outcome and a seamless experience for customers
Holly Simmons is Senior Director of Product Marketing for Customer Service Management at ServiceNow.