• May 23, 2016

Self-Sabotage: Your Policies Are Ruining the Customer Experience

Ensure your company policies benefit both you and your customer.

There’s a mole in your mission to create the best customer experience. This saboteur looks as if it’s benefiting your enterprise, but in reality, it’s driving customers away. Look no further than your customer policies.

Customer experience is more important than ever. A single negative customer experience can deter potential customers from making a purchase from a company, according to BI Intelligence’s Customer Service Report. And it should come as no surprise that the report found that negative experiences loom larger than positive ones. So where you should look to find customer policies that just aren’t working? Start with these three.

Nix the Scripts

Making your customer service representatives strictly stick to a script is killing the customer experience, especially when you require customers to stick to it, too. While having a script is helpful, particularly when getting to the root of why a customer is calling, customer service agents must have the freedom to improvise when the situation requires it.

For example, if a cable company requires the customer service agent to instruct the customer to try specific steps before the service rep can fill out a repair ticket, there’s no allowing that a customer may have already tried all of these steps before calling. The representative should feel empowered to skip these steps in the script to improve the customer experience.

Of high-performing service teams, 65 percent say their agents are completely empowered to make customers happy. That’s 3.4 times more than underperformers. Rigid scripts kill the customer experience.

Silo Problem

Disjointed data gathering due to data, system, channel, and process silos creates a customer experience where the customer must repeat the same information over and over again. For example, the interactive voice response system asks for a phone or account number to identify the caller. But then the customer representative asks for the same information when he comes on the line, and every rep in any department the caller is transferred to does, too. If you make the customer say the same things over and over, you’re proving that your company isn’t listening. That’s a bad customer experience in anyone’s day.

“Customers will not tolerate companies that have amnesia when it comes to remembering them and their preferences for recognition,” Gene Alvarez, managing vice president at Gartner, said at the Gartner 360 Summit. “This makes it imperative for companies to recognize their customers and to serve them pertinent content that demonstrates the proper recognition and treatment.”

Customer data silos—not just in the customer service department but throughout the organization—hinder the customer journey. Customers want a seamless omnichannel experience whether they’re online, using mobile devices, or in-store. If your policies and technology discourage data sharing throughout the whole enterprise, you’re doing customers a disservice.

He Said, She Said

Failing to use technology to confirm services rendered or reveal details on incidents in the customer experience and instead relying on employee data entry or self-reporting only puts your company in the middle of a “he said, she said” dispute that often can be difficult to resolve. How do you know who is right if there is no data trail?

For example, Uber was faced with a dispute between a rider and a driver. They each gave conflicting accounts of the incident. Uber did end up diving into the data to see the whole picture. The company reviewed both the rider’s and the driver’s past ratings (Uber drivers aren’t the only ones being rated; passengers and drivers have the chance to rate each other after each ride). Uber also checked the rider’s account of the ride—like the fact that the driver missed an exit—against GPS records, according to Adrienne LaFrance in a post in The Atlantic. The driver was ultimately banned from the platform.

This case emphasizes that your enterprise needs to make sure its policy requires that a customer service rep double-check the facts in the face of conflicting information—rather than assume the customer is at fault or mistaken.

These aren’t the only policies that could be hurting you. Each enterprise should take stock of the net effect it is having on the customer experience. By pushing your operations beyond the obvious to include policy and process improvements, you can ensure a satisfying customer experience and a profitable future for your company.

Like this story? Read more about improving the customer experience.