Like it or not, we’re all service businesses
Think about that for a moment…
Every business, no matter what it does, has customers and they have needs and expectations to be met. To achieve this, you have to serve them.
Sometimes the serving may be brief, as they buy something from you in store or online. Other times, it may be ongoing, over a longer period, as they interact with your brand through various touch-points, out of necessity or preference.
Regardless we are all service businesses.
Comparison sites, customer reviews and social media mean you’re now only as good as the last customer’s experience. Over 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
But gone are the days when delivering service was a one-to-one affair. In a connected world with an ever-expanding range of sharing platforms, word spreads quickly and what customers say about the experiences you provide can be accessed worldwide instantly. The impact can be global.
To make things just a bit more challenging, our customers expect to be able to engage spontaneously across a number of channels: online, on the move, at retail or by phone. The trouble is we’re often hindered by outdated procedures, infrastructures and systems that struggle to keep pace with what’s expected of them.
Customers don’t discern by sector when judging experiences and their benchmark of service excellence may have been set by best practice in other sectors. We have to meet peoples' expectations and egos in real-time with consistency, transparency and relevance.
Getting it right requires concerted effort, investment and commitment.
Getting it wrong is easy, as is getting the bad reputation that follows as a consequence.
But don’t just take our word for it…
When you consider that most customers refer to, trust and are influenced by online reviews - including social media it’s almost guaranteed that their impression of you will be pre-formed by strangers’ opinions. Your reputation definitely precedes you.
Research shows that 81% of shoppers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience and it’s not only the numbers talking. We’ve also heard this ourselves from customers worldwide as part of our daily practice of gathering insights to understand how we can help organisations develop remarkable customer experiences.
Get it right and everything falls into place…
People want to feel appreciated and valued. Once they do, they will pay you back with their custom, loyalty and potentially recommend your business to acquaintances and others.
In this instance, word also spreads quickly but for all the right reasons. One of the most reliable channels for customer referral is word of mouth. Across the world, 9 out of 10 customers say recommendations from friends and family members are the most trusted form of advertising, as opposed to only 2 out of 10 trusting advertising.
Increasingly, companies are becoming aware of this need to get experiences right. Those companies who do so are also providing the channels to enable their customers to share the experiences with others, virtually live-streaming their opinions as they go. Followers are collected as they join the conversation contact and preference data is gathered and so connections can be made to the wider group. Having that kind of extended reach is invaluable, but also risky if you let things slip.
Get it wrong and the impact can be far reaching…
A dissatisfied customer may purposefully tell 9-15 people about their experience, and over 10% tell more than 20. Now think about how many customers you have.
There is also another less vocal but equally damaging type of customer, those who don’t complain. For every single customer who logs a complaint, there are another 26 unhappy customers who have remained silent and because their discontent is only known to them, there is nothing you can do to befriend them and win them over. You will be listed in their little black book of unsatisfactory service providers. As if that was not enough, when you do have to make up for a bad experience, it takes 12 positive ones to compensate for that one unresolved.
To add a layer of complexity, think about every touch-point your customer interacts with during their journey with your brand. Each one of those encounters and interactions is a mini-experience in itself. Depending on the product or service, consumers touch your brand an average of 56 times between inspiration and transaction, which means you have to ensure that every one is fulfilling your customer’s expectations and contributing positively to the overall experience.
On a more positive note, when on occasion things do go wrong, if the recovery experience fulfils expectations, customers will tell 4-6 people about how well things were put right. Getting issues resolved, and the delivery of a great experience will rely largely on your people. Good customer service and helpful staff elicit the highest levels of praise in the retail sector: 63% of all positive feedback relates to staff, versus 8.4% to products.
That said, the people factor is often the hardest to manage and maintain.
More so than ever we are able to gather the hard hitting measures of success: increased revenue, reduced costs, improved efficiencies, increased customer traffic in store and online, greater spend per transaction and improved lifetime value.
At Engine, we’ve had the opportunity to work with top-flight brands from a number of sectors and have helped them design world-class experiences for their customers. The results for a number of our clients have been record-breaking for their organisation.
We designed a Retail Service Platform for Philips, which saw a 100% increase in retail sales. Philips PRS provides a platform of rich tools and services for retailers to effectively manage their assets and customer touch-points to deliver an enhanced and profitable in-store experience for their customers.
For Virgin Atlantic, our work delivered a 75% reduction in check-in times. We worked alongside their in-house service design team to envisage and design the future Terminal 3 experience for each class at Heathrow Airport.
For Mercedes-Benz, we created an award winning new after-sales service. We looked at substantially differentiating their servicing offer, to create compelling reasons for customers to choose, remain loyal to, and recommend them, while ensuring the change was desirable and achievable for the franchise network. This has produced considerable impact in their footfall with retail visits up by 8% against a previous year decline.
Sometimes the impact of our work may also bring softer improvements such as overall satisfaction, NPS, staff morale, industry awards or a change in a company’s culture towards being more customer-centred.
With Heathrow Airport, the brand has seen a 45% increase in passenger satisfaction as result of completely remodelling the premium passenger security experience, which has created a distinct and appealing brand for the service.
Also, in the air travel industry, we were excited to see that the passenger service brand and strategy developed for Aeroportos de Portugal (ANA) secured a coveted ASQ Award for Best Airport in Europe (Porto).
For Virgin Media, we designed a programme called Voice of Our Brand which consists of behavioural frameworks and coaching materials to support staff in delivering perfect customer interactions. Since implementation some 10,000 frontline staff in call centres, retail stores and installation teams have been trained resulting in a 28 point increase in transactional NPS and a return on investment (ROI) of 400%.
So can we help you achieve results like that?
The secret is in the sauce. Want to know the recipe? We’re happy to meet and share it with you.
If you’re interested in meeting, get in touch. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org