Last updated: How to improve your service experience and bring customers back

How to improve your service experience and bring customers back


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Need more incentive to improve your service experience? New research shows that 80% of customers say they’ve switched brands due to poor CX. And poor customer service experiences are what drove the most of them to switch.

Brands already know that customer experience is a top priority. But CX is broad, encompassing every aspect of a customer’s journey. Between changing customer expectations, COVID regulations, ongoing labor shortages, and supply chain issues, it can be hard to know where to focus your efforts.

Conventional wisdom tells us to focus on the one area where we can make the biggest impact. And based on current trends, that’s the customer service experience.

Post-pandemic, customers are losing patience with poor service

In 2020, when COVID-19 turned the world on its head, people tended to extend a lot of patience and empathy to each other—businesses and consumers alike. We were in uncharted territory, and we all understood that no one was unaffected.

That was almost two years ago now. And while we’re still in the throes of uncertainty, people have learned to adapt. And many feel that businesses have failed to do the same.

Trends show that most people think customer service has gotten worse during the pandemic. In fact, more than half of Millennials and Gen Zers polled last year said they’d rather get their teeth cleaned than deal with customer service.

If you want to keep customers (and ideally, attract new ones), then you need to improve your service experience. Here’s how.

3 ways to improve your service experience

  1. Identify and address key problem areas
  2. Equip and empower your service agents
  3. Shift from just resolving issues to adding value

Identify and address key problem areas

First thing’s first: figure out where your service experience is suffering. Chances are it won’t be too hard to find—consumers are prone to sharing when they have a bad experience. But 63% of them think companies need to get better at listening to their feedback.

Dig through your customer service data to uncover insights. Monitor social media chatter. But don’t just stick to your own channels. Check out third-party resources such as online forums, where customers may be seeking answers.

Better yet: run through the customer experience journey yourself, as a customer. Notice where the journey gets disrupted and issues arise. Then, make a plan to address it.

For example, one of the most common service issues customers complain about is long hold times. And nearly 50% of people think that “unusually high call volume” recordings are lies. (Spoiler alert: if your call volume is always “higher than usual,” it’s no longer unusual).

Invest in bots and smart voice solutions to help alleviate staffing shortages. Offer call-back options to shorten the queue. Beef up your self-service offerings to help people get answers to common questions. Do what you can to take action and address the pain point.

(Bonus points for improving the on-hold experience! Update your music, play it at a reasonable volume, and avoid the temptation of playing frequent ads that make customers think their call’s being answered.)

Equip and empower your service agents

Few things are more frustrating to a customer who finally gets through to a customer service agent than realizing the agent can’t help them.

A colleague of mine, after months of struggling with their business software, finally connected with someone at the company who was able to quickly and easily resolve her issues. She thanked him and asked if she could reach out to him directly if she had issues in the future. He had to decline, saying he’s a more senior team leader, and was only answering calls due to another issue that had his staff maxed out.

It shouldn’t take senior leadership to get issues resolved. Do whatever you can to empower your service agents to handle customer calls and resolve issues, without having to transfer them to someone else.

Not only will this alleviate customer frustrations, it will also improve the service agent experience. Dealing with angry customers day in and day out takes a toll on your employees. Empowering them with things like cross-channel customer information can improve their overall experience. And that may help you attract and retain high-quality talent.

Shift from just resolving issues to adding value

“Great service experiences may stem attrition, but only ‘value enhancing’ service experiences drive retention and growth,” Gartner researchers said in a recent study.

To really improve your service experience, you may need to rethink how you define customer service. Remember that it’s part of the larger customer experience. And your ultimate goal is to improve customers’ entire experience with your brand.

According to Gartner: “Organizations should focus less on the marginal improvements to the quality of the customer service experience itself and more on how service interactions can help customers derive the most value from the product or service offering.”

Yes, this is a post about the importance of improving your service experience. And sure, this may sound contradictory. But I don’t think it is.

Consumers reach out to service organizations mostly because they need issues resolved. That needs to be Priority No. 1. But if you’re able to go beyond that and help them get more out of your products or services, either by anticipating needs, showing them how to use features that will help them, or show them how they can save money – you may win a customer for life.

Take, for example, this video about Lego’s approach to their in-store experience:

While not specifically customer service-focused, it shows how shifting the in-store focus to improving the brand experience (rather than just making sales) can have a big impact.

Improve your service experience, improve your customer experience

If you can only focus on one strategic area of your business in 2022, make it your customer service experience. Customers will pay more for better experiences, especially when it comes to service and support. But it just takes one bad experience to send them packing.

96% of consumers have more trust in brands when they make it easy to do business with them.
Are you delivering what customers want? Get ‘The State of Customer Service’ report HERE.

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