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Is Your Head in the Sand?

Using social media as a business tool represents a huge opportunity. Because many have not yet adopted social media, those who have will have a significant advantage.

In fact, those who fail to start developing a social media presence will be disadvantaged in the long run. Don’t defer any longer: get professional advice on how to build a presence on the platforms that are going to be appropriate for your business, and start spreading your message. If you’re going to put your head in the sand, you’re going to become obsolete.

Some 66 per cent of the world’s consumers switched brands of businesses in 2013 due to poor customer service, according to trendwatching.com. Worse, 82 per cent of switches said the brand could have done something to stop them. Clearly, businesses are falling short on customer service. 

What are the biggest errors?

Businesses that do not treat customers as individuals. Harvard’s Doc Searls says we are now in the Experience or Intention Economy. We need to develop experiences for both the person and the business. Better still, why not have the customer co-create the experience they want, in partnership with the employee? Customers will typically pay between 10 and 20 per cent more for experiences they have been involved in designing. Organisations with mature customer experience strategies will usually have revenue performance more than 20 per cent higher than organisations that do not. Even the language around customer service needs to evolve. It’s about customers having awesome experiences, not just service with a brand.

Too many businesses simply forget about their customers and what they want. And yet in an ever-competitive world, service and experience are often your points of difference. Despite advancements in technology over the last decade, the phrases “we don’t split bills”, “online purchases can’t be returned in-store” and “call centre hours are nine to five, Monday to Friday” are still too common.

As consumer confidence remains cautious and consumers are spoilt for choice, businesses face increasing competition for their share of the Australian wallet. Never before has investment in customer service excellence been so important. But how many businesses realise it?

Two of the biggest mistakes some businesses make are not listening to customers, and not being there when their customers need them most. It’s essential to provide a unique customer experience by anticipating customer’s needs and expectations and exceeding them, every time. It makes sense for us to select highly engaged and customer-focused employees and invest in their training and development. In our business camps we instil that every opportunity is a chance to build loyalty and advocacy.

In the latest American Express Customer Service barometer, it’s clear that Australians have high expectations of customer service and are prepared to put their wallets where their mouth is. They are happy to reward companies with good service standards.

The majority of Australians (72 per cent) will spend an average of 12 per cent more when they get good service. We see this with many of our customers; they vote with their wallets after they receive great service.

Globally, American Express Card Members who are highly satisfied with their service interactions spend 16 per cent more on their cards.

It simply makes good business sense to consistently invest in customer service, and make it priority.

In short- put the customer at the centre of your business. This means designing products and services with your customer in mind. We know 90 per cent of Australian smartphone users access the internet via their device daily, so why build a website that doesn’t work on a mobile?

It’s not enough to think purely about customers as external consumers that use your services. It is equally important to think about your staff and employees.

Are your people equipped to be able to provide exceptional service? Do they have access to the same service that your customers have? Can they relate to what your customers are experiencing? And, if so, are they empowered to make decisions that make the difference between a wonderful experience and a terrible one?

Identifying mistakes in customer service is the easy part – the challenge is putting your customer at the heart of everything you do and giving them an experience that surprises, delights and leaves them wanting more.