Dan Gingiss is an international keynote speaker, customer experience coach, podcaster, and the author of The Experience Maker: How To Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait To Share.
Consistency is one of the hallmarks of customer service and customer experience.
A consistent experience is one that is predictable and dependable — something that most customers value — and it inspires confidence in a company’s ability to get the job done.
Customer Service speaker and bestselling author Shep Hyken says that “the three keys to customer experience success are consistency, consistency and consistency” — much as a real estate agent might point to location, location, location.
A key to becoming consistent is looking at the entire customer journey and ensuring that it makes sense as a whole. Rarely do companies take time to look at the 30,000-foot view of the entire journey, including all of the transitions they make customers endure. The entire experience should be one continuous smooth ride for your customers, but unfortunately, that ride is often bumpy.
What causes the bumpiness? Most of the time it’s a faulty organizational structure.
So many businesses are siloed, with lots of different teams that are in charge of different parts of the customer experience. These teams have names like acquisition, loyalty, and retention; in a B2B company they might be called sales and customer success.
The problem is that siloed businesses create siloed experiences because every department owns a different part of the experience and the departments don’t sufficiently communicate with each other. They create the best experiences they can, but the poor customer is left with really awkward, inconsistent, or disjointed transitions between experiences — especially when no one is accountable for the entire journey.
How to Create a More Consistent Customer Service Experience
Research company eMarketer, in its Customer Experience 2020 report, noted that “lack of single ownership for omnichannel efforts” a “big problem” in customer experience.
“Everyone must align on the overarching goals and visions of delivering the experience,” the report stated.
In order to deliver a consistent, connected experience, teams should always ask where the customer came from before they arrived at a certain part of the experience, and where are they going next. Then make sure that those transitions are smooth. If everyone is responsible for their part of the experience AND the transitions to and from, the customer will be spared a lot of aggravation.
When a customer needs to contact Customer Service, it’s usually because something in the experience failed to meet expectations. Speed and consistent service delivery are therefore key success factors for contact centers today.
The need for speed has evolved since the advent of social media and “real-time” conversations. Customers now want fast responses (and resolution) in every channel, and they want the entire process to be easy. Long hold times, clunky chat sessions, and “please allow 7-10 business days” are no longer tolerated.
Customers want answers right now in the channel of their choice, and if your company isn’t there to deliver, they’ll find another one that can.
Consistency becomes a problem when certain agents are more empowered than their counterparts in other channels to make problems go away so customers won’t complain publicly. This is often the case in social media, because of the fear of bad publicity. But it teaches customers to come to that channel first for the best service, which then defeats the purpose of avoiding bad publicity.
Similarly, if agents aren’t trained the same way, customers may figure out that they can just call back and talk to another agent until they get the answer they want.
To avoid inadvertently creating an inconsistent customer service experience, ensure that all contact center employees, regardless of channel, receive the same policy training and are empowered equally to solve customer problems. In other words, it shouldn’t matter which service channel a customer chooses; the answer should always be the same.
And remember: Managing customer expectations is one of the keys to customer experience success. Consistently meeting and occasionally exceeding those expectations will generate trust, loyalty, and referrals for years to come.