Does customer service really impact how your audience views your brand?
According to the data, the answer is very clearly yes. Take a look for yourself:
- 3 out of 5 customers say that good customer service is necessary for them to feel loyal to a brand.
- 93% of customers are more likely to remain loyal to companies who have great customer service.
- 83% of consumers say they feel more loyal to brands who quickly resolve their concerns and complaints.
The data is clear. But why does customer service have such a big impact on your brand? The right customer service provider can elevate your brand significantly, whereas a bad provider can tank your brand in a matter of months.
In this article, we’ll break down the various ways customer service impacts a brand, how to measure the impact and improvements, and how to improve the customer service you offer.
The Role of Customer Service in Brand Image
The data is clear: customer service plays a major role in your brand’s image and perception in the eyes of your consumers. The better your service, the better your brand image.
Consider that your customer service is many customer’s most salient experience with your brand—one of the only times they may ever interact with a human representative of your brand, especially for e-commerce sites. As a result, the experience customers have with your brand representatives—your customer service agents—will shape how they perceive and remember your brand.
There are a number of brands who have leaned heavily on this and created brands shaped around good customer service. For instance, consider brands like Disney, Zappos, Chewy and Bombas. All of these brands—large or small—are known for their customer service. Customers have come to expect high-touch, highly-personalized customer service from these brands, and it shapes the way they are perceived as well as their customer loyalty.
But how do you get to that point? It starts with the basics of good customer service.
Key Qualities of a Good Customer Service Provider
Offering exceptional customer service is easiest when you’re working with a great customer service provider. Rather than managing customer service in-house, a great provider can give you the exceptional customer service you need to stand out as a brand.
But what does exceptional customer service look like? It may be simpler than you think. For example, 80% of American customers said that “speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service” were the most important parts of great customer service. Getting these basics right will do more for your customer service and brand reputation than having all the “bells and whistles” available for your customers.
In short, good service is simple. Look for a provider that can offer exceptional service on these key touchstones.
In addition to these basics, your customer service needs to be consistent. If quality varies greatly from customer to customer, agent to agent, or channel to channel, you’re going to have problems with your brand reputation.
After all, who hasn’t had the experience of having a frustrating and long phone call with an unhelpful agent, only to call back and get a knowledgeable and empathetic agent who immediately resolves your concern? The result of this inconsistency is a damaged brand reputation, as customers aren’t sure they will be able to trust you to provide good service every time they call. The solution? Better training and stronger quality standards and processes to improve quality across the board.
Building Customer Loyalty through Service Excellence
Of course, it’s not just the right elements of customer service that builds loyalty—it’s performing them excellently.
58% of consumers would pay more if they knew they’d receive excellent customer service along the way. What’s more, a massive 70% of consumers would pay more for convenient experiences. So, providing excellent, convenient service doesn’t just build loyalty—it also increases your customer’s perception of your brand value, leading to more revenue for your brand in the long run.
That to say: good customer service experiences fosters loyalty, which means that investing in more excellent service is investing in your customer loyalty and retention program. And given how valuable loyal customers are to your business, we’d say that’s a worthy investment. For example, consider that:
- Loyal customers are four times as likely to refer other customers to your company.
- Customers switching companies due to poor service costs US companies $1.6 trillion dollars.
- Loyal customers have a lifetime value 6x – 14x higher than those who have a negative experience with your company, as based on NPS score.
Long story short: don’t skimp on your service! It elevates your brand, increases customer loyalty and retention, improves revenue, and offers you a competitive advantage.
Customer Service as a Competitive Advantage
How does customer service offer you a competitive advantage, though? After all, don’t all companies offer customer service?
Yes, but consider how different the customer experience is with the service provided at different companies.
Your product and your price point can carry you so far when it comes to setting yourself apart from your competitors—but if your customers know they can expect good service from your brand, they’ll be willing to pay more for it as it will set you apart from everyone else in your space that’s only offering mediocre service.
For example, consider how Amazon started out by setting themselves apart from everyone else through customer service. At this point, Amazon is such a behemoth, it has lots to set itself apart from everyone else. But early on, their customer service was one of their distinguishing advantages. They had faster shipping, more generous return policies and other service details that gained customer loyalty.
REI is another example of a brand setting themselves apart with customer service. There isn’t any shortage of outdoor brands, and REI offers stock from many of them. As for REI-brand products, they’re objectively no better than many other brands available. So why is REI so popular? They offer great service—a 365-return policy for members, affordable rewards programs with easy-to-earn rewards, product quality guarantees and more.
When you offer service that no one else is willing to offer, customers will notice—and it’ll elevate your brand.
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Integrating Customer Service with Overall Brand Strategy
Of course, while great customer service can be brand-building all on its own, it has an even stronger effect if your customer service reflects your brand and brand values as a whole. To do this, you have to align your customer service objectives with your brand values and goals, and integrate your brand experience into your customer service.
What does this look like? A few examples of aligned branding and customer service:
- Chewy, a pet food brand, wants to create a reputation as a brand who truly cares about customer’s pets as much as they do. They’ve integrated with this into their customer service in a number of ways. For example, if a customer calls to cancel an order or subscription because a pet has died, they often send a handwritten card and a memento to show their customers they care.
- Disney has created a brand where they are known for creating a sense of magic in the details. This can be seen if you stay at any one of their park hotels or resorts—employees will go out of their way to add a little extra magic to your stay.
- Bombas, a sock brand, cares about giving back and uses the 1-for-1 purchase: donation model. They’ve integrated this value into their customer service as well—if a customer purchases or receives Bombas socks that don’t work for some reason, their customer team often encourages the customer to give away those pairs, while offering them a credit toward a future purchase.
When you’re working with an outsourced team, integrating your brand personality and values into your customer service can be more difficult. After all, outsourced employees typically aren’t as familiar with or integrated with your brand. That’s why here at Global Response we train our employees to become your brand experts. With extensive training in your brand and product, you can put your brand values and personality front and center in every customer interaction. Not only does this provide better customer experiences, it also provides a stronger support for your overall brand strategy and strengthens your brand perception over time.
Measuring the Impact of a Customer Service Provider on Brand Success
Regardless of how great your customer service is and how well you think it’s working, it’s essential to have regular and reliable data to ensure that your customer service is having a positive impact on your brand. Both qualitative and quantitative data is helpful in assessing the impact and effectiveness of your customer service.
For quantitative data, we recommend measuring and tracking the following KPIs:
- Time in Queue (how long customers wait before being connected to an agent)
- Ticket Volume (the number of tickets your call center receives—sudden spikes can indicate problems with your brand, product or service)
- First Contact Resolution (FCR) rate (the percentage of tickets that are resolved by the first contact)
- Resolution rate (the overall percentage of tickets that are resolved)
- Abandonment rate (the percentage of callers who abandon their call before being connected with an agent)
These metrics will give you clarity into your service levels, while also indicating—and being correlated with—customer satisfaction. In addition, you can measure customer sentiment and satisfaction more directly, primarily through CSAT (a quantitative measure of customer satisfaction) and NPS (a measure of how likely customers are to recommend your brand). The higher both of these scores, the more positively customers feel about your brand.
As a result, by measuring and tracking these metrics over time, you can see the results of your customer service provider on customer satisfaction, brand perception and loyalty, allowing you to make adjustments and improvements as needed to continue offering exceptional service that drives results.
Challenges in Maintaining High-Quality Customer Service
Of course, this doesn’t mean that maintaining high-quality customer service is easy. There are many challenges that brands face in providing consistent service. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common ones, along with some effective solutions.
Challenge: Phone is the preferred contact channel for just 22% of consumers aged 18-39. Phone is still an important contact channel, but it’s not the only one. Customers today—especially younger age demographics—expect to be able to contact companies on a variety of channels, and expect seamless service across all of them.
Solution: Implement omnichannel customer service solutions. Omnichannel customer solutions are quickly becoming a must in today’s customer service world. When customers are contacting your business through phone, email, social media and more, you need clear ways to organize your communications and ensure that customers’ experiences are streamlined. Omnichannel solutions give you the technology and strategy to ensure a seamless experience.
Challenge: Scaling quality service effectively is difficult to achieve. When your call volume grows, it’s common for service quality to diminish as a result. You’re trying to respond to more customers in the same amount of time, which is difficult.
Solution: Invest in a flexible and scalable outsourcing team. Outsourcing is the most effective way to scale your team and service, allowing you to maintain high quality levels while also meeting demand. When choosing a provider, ensure that your provider has the capacity and resources to scale your service as your demand grows, whether seasonally or alongside your business. Either way, you don’t want to be locked into a service contract that you may quickly outgrow.
Challenge: Customer expectations can change rapidly. As customers come to expect more and more from their experiences with brands, it can be difficult for brands to keep up and maintain great service.
Solution: Partner with a customer service provider focused on innovation and flexibility. An innovative and experienced customer service provider not only knows the best practices, but will also be able and willing to create new experiences and processes to serve your customers best. Modern customer service providers who have the know-how and technology to support innovation will be able to provide the best experiences for your customers.
Innovations and Trends in Customer Service
Speaking of innovation, the customer service industry is definitely experiencing our fair share of new trends, technology and innovation. Understanding and staying ahead of the trends is another way to further enhance your brand reputation. After all, if you only implement new tools and technologies once they’ve become commonplace, you’re never going to be able to set your brand apart from everyone else.
For example, AI is quickly becoming a common tool in call centers—but it’s still one that, used well, can set your brand apart and provide space to innovate better solutions for your customers. For example, chatbots are becoming commonplace, but many of them are still quite basic and not that useful for complex customer queries. Creating better chatbots based off of your website, product knowledge bases and company documentation can create better chatbot experiences and self-serve solutions for your customers.
You can also use AI and other similar technology in non-customer-facing ways to improve the customer experience. For example, at Global Response, we make use of sentiment analysis tools to help agents quickly identify customer sentiment and concerns and respond more appropriately in real-time.
One thing’s for sure: customer service has never been a stagnant industry, and it’s not going to become so anytime soon.
When you’re ready to partner with a customer service provider that can tick all the boxes, turn to Global Response. We have 40+ years of experience in managing customer service and experience, and we’ve helped a variety of companies and industries strengthen their brand and improve customer conversion and retention through our customer service techniques. We’re also here to:
- create brand-experts who can manage customer service while seamlessly integrating into your brand personality
- innovate new and imaginative solutions that will keep your brand ahead of the curve
- implement best-in-class technology for the most optimized and personalized solutions for your brand
- nail the basics of customer service to deliver exceptional experiences every time
- implement omnichannel solutions that provide your customers with seamless support
- build customer loyalty and retention for your brand through consistently superb service
Want to see the difference Global Response can have for your brand? Connect with an expert today and we’ll show you the results you can expect.