Every year in October, “Customer Service Week” serves as a platform to honor support professionals across industries. Customer service representatives are the front line of your business, expertly fielding inquiries, addressing concerns, and impacting future profitability. Studies show that it’s up to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one, and loyal customers are worth up to 10 times the amount of their initial purchase. Poor service, on the other hand, is responsible for U.S. businesses in lost sales from existing customers.
It’s clear that ensuring a positive customer experience isn’t just a marketing maxim—it’s a business imperative.
Ultimate Software’s commitment to service has always been a differentiator for us in the HCM space. We treat every week like Customer Service Week and are regularly recognized for the way our companywide “People First” philosophy drives our customer relations. Most recently, we were named the 2017 National Customer Service Association’s top Service Organization of the Year in the Large-Business Category and presented with a Silver Stevie award for “Innovation in Customer Service” and “Customer Service Department of the Year 2017.”
We hope our devotion to service inspires other companies to put people first. To that end, here are three tips for developing an award-winning customer strategy that celebrates and recognizes customers and service professionals every week of the year.
Think: Employee Satisfaction = Customer Satisfaction
Employee engagement has a significant impact on customer satisfaction. It’s intuitive: dissatisfied, unmotivated employees are much less likely to provide top-quality service than those proudly invested in their roles.
Trust that employees who are well taken care of by their companies will take great care of customers. Evaluate benefits, culture, and overall environment to identify strengths and opportunities. One of the best ways to gauge employee satisfaction is to ask for feedback, a process that’s now easier than ever thanks to advanced sentiment-analysis technology.
Keep in mind that your company’s customer experience will likely improve when a service-minded culture stems from the top. In fact, Forrester’s 2016 “Five Secrets of Customer-Obsessed Cultures” report found that companies with extraordinary customer service often had leaders who frequently conveyed service-oriented values to employees.
Finally, remember that recognition and feeling valued are key drivers of engagement. Periodically recognize top employees, particularly those in sometimes-thankless service roles. To celebrate Customer Service Week, for example, Ultimate is awarding our own Customer Support Heroes with prizes and week-long celebrations complete with free food and fun, inflatable obstacle courses.
Always Be Available to Solve Problems Quickly
Whether offering proactive support, resolving critical issues, or providing ongoing guidance as a trusted resource, it’s crucial to be available to your customers when they need you—whenever that may be.
Resources such as 24/7 phone support, Web-based chat, and self-service portals are key. First-response time and problem-resolution time are equally important, and customers expect adequate support as soon as they have an issue.
Lastly, consider reevaluating service models, which may be outdated. At Ultimate, we implemented an innovative collaborative support service model in 2016 that reduced customer resolution time by 60%.
Remember: Success Comes from Communication, Collaboration with Customers
I can’t stress this enough: establish and prioritize relationships with your customers.
When customers invest their time, trust, and money with you, I feel strongly that at least one person in your organization should know them on a personal basis. The ability to call a dedicated rep who remembers your name and your company goes a long way towards creating a positive customer experience. Everyone wants to feel like they are valued and respected, and established relationships help make this happen.
At Ultimate, every customer is assigned an Executive Relationship Manager as well as a dedicated account manager to walk through every step of the launch. Customers enjoy the industry’s most comprehensive (and personalized!) set of services and training at no additional cost. We believe these extraordinary services help us sustain our 97% customer retention rate.
Finally, in addition to personalized service and relationships, successful organizations understand that customers are key influencers, providing rich insights on ways to improve the product, enhance user experience (UX), and optimize satisfaction. At Ultimate, we frequently hold customer experience focus groups, where we explore the platform one-on-one with our customers. As a result of these and other UX tests, we implemented more than 30 new features in UltiPro this year, incorporating more than 80 customer ideas.
Providing consistent, high-quality customer service should always be a top priority for your organization. Remember: Your customers are your business!
Happy Customer Service Week!