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What advisers are saying: Service and the silent killer

Ensuring clients have a consistent and consistently enjoyable interaction with a firm is the key to providing a good customer experience.

Phil_Wickenden_pink_2014

Think about the last time you received great customer service. You probably expressed that experience to others by describing it something like – “x delivered some flippin’ fantastic service!” You may have used stronger adjectives depending on your exuberance and natural disposition but what you are most likely talking about is your overall experience with the company.

It is easy to see then, why the terms customer service and customer experience can be easily confused. But they are very different. Many companies claim to provide good customer service, but that does not mean that their customers are having good experiences. This is a silent killer.

Customer service is an essential part of the overall customer experience, but it is just one piece of a very large equation.

Customer experience includes a customer’s perception of a company, a customer’s interaction with a company and a customer’s recollection of that entire process, from start to finish.

Customer service is simply assisting customers and meeting their needs. It helps to shape the overall customer experience but does not fully define it. Far from it.

Talking to advisers this week about their clients’ experiences revealed (sometimes significant) gaps between the beautiful ideal and where many of us are today.

That’s not to say things are bad, just that emphasis on perfecting touch-points is not always enough and diverts attention from the bigger—and more important—picture: the customer’s end-to-end journey and how that feels.

Even when customers’ satisfaction with each transaction ranging from calls, reviews, on-line services, reports and product purchase were consistently high, focus groups reveal that many customers still remain less delighted with their overall interaction.

Looking solely at individual transactions makes it hard for any business to identify where to direct improvement efforts, and the (conversely) high levels of satisfaction on specific metrics makes it tricky to motivate employees to change what looks for all the world like it doesn’t need changing.

The root of the problem is this: most customers are not fed up with any one phone call, meeting, or other interaction—in fact, they do not much care about these singular touch-points. What reduces satisfaction is something few companies manage—cumulative experiences across multiple touch-points and in multiple channels over time.

Businesses able to measure and manage the entire experience reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer happiness, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction. They also typically discover more effective ways to collaborate across functions, a process that delivers significant efficiency gains throughout the company.

Phil Wickenden is founder of So Here’s the Plan

IFA quotes from research:

Adviser quotes-30Jan14

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