Your Customers Were Already Frustrated Before COVID-19

Are You Ready to Re-Build Customer Loyalty?

The 2020 National Customer Rage Study was released last month. With everything else going on, did you have a chance to look through it? You should. It’s a quick and straight-forward read.

It’s also an eye-opener.

This year’s study is actually the 9th wave of a long-running series, first initiated in 1976 by the White House. Because of that, we’re able to see how customer experience and customer expectation relate to loyalty – but also how those correlations have changed, dramatically, over time. Back in 1976, for example, the study showed that complaining customers were actually more loyal than their non-complaining counterparts. That correlation spurred many companies to begin inviting, even encouraging customer feedback. Brands that successfully addressed and resolved customer issues reaped serious profitability rewards. Today, of course, we have virtually unlimited ways to find out what our customers want, need, and expect – and how we stack up.

But, here’s a paradox: now that it’s so easy for customers to share their feedback, the correlation has inverted. Today’s complainers are less loyal. It makes sense when you think about it. Thanks to the speed of technology innovations and the endless parade of industry disruptors who make it all too easy to switch providers, today’s customers are simply less invested in remaining “loyal.” If you’re frustrated, why waste your time complaining and explaining when there’s something better within easy reach?

To further complicate matters, “customer complaining” is no longer limited to a single channel – or audience. When you leave a customer on hold for too long, or simply greet them robotically, or provide inadequate answers, that customer will probably be mad. But they probably won’t get too invested in telling you about it. They’ll still “tell 7 friends,” like the old rules used to suggest. But the damage is far worse than that. They’ll also get online and vent. And vent. And vent, on multiple sites, in the span of minutes. One post can invite other readers to reach back into their own memory banks and recall any time they, too, may have been disappointed by your brand. And from there, it snowballs. Advice is sought and shared. Names of your competitors are endorsed.

Loyalty is more important than ever but is increasingly fragile.

It’s through that lens that I suggest we all pay attention to this year’s Customer Rage Study.

I’d like to share a few key takeaways from this year’s study. But as you review them, keep this sobering fact in mind: while the study wasn’t released until June of this year, these findings were gathered in February. Customers were already more frustrated than ever. They were already complaining more. They were also changing how they complain. While plenty of anecdotal evidence indicates that customers were ore forgiving of their favorite brands during the first few months of COVID-19, it also suggests that their patience has worn thin.

As you consider the 2020 Customer Rage study, consider your own organization’s readiness to retain your customers during this unprecedented time. Are you ready to deliver a superior, seamless customer experience — no matter how long the pandemic wreaks havoc on so many North American and offshore call centers?

A Small Sampling of Findings From this Year’s Study:

  • Consumer expectations have grown. But brands are failing to deliver on those expectations at a growing rate and, as a result, their customers are increasingly dissatisfied.
  • Consumers want more than a dollar-based solution. They want to feel a certain way when interacting with their brands. If you messed up, they want you to apologize. In fact, fully 50% stated that they wanted empathy or other feelings-based responses unrelated to money. Interestingly, 60% of respondents indicated that a better response included both a refund or other financial consideration plus an apology or other expression of empathy was more satisfying.
  • You can trace most of the disappointment in your brand to just 5 underlying issues. In the study’s summary, these five were summarized as “companies are doing all the right things, but the wrong way”:

1.     Your toll free numbers feel too complicated. My take: If it’s not easy to call, ask for help, and get help, it’s not working.

2.     Your agents are not empowered.  My take: There are few things more disengaging than having a customer care agent say they understand – but there’s nothing they can do.

3.     You’re operations are understaffed.  My take: lengthy hold times, average handling times, and other delays lead customers to believe that there is simply a lack of investment – and care – in serving customer needs.

4.     Your website is user-unfriendly.  My take: every channel in which you operate needs to be customer friendly. If your website makes customer communications klunky, difficult, or confusing, you’re doing it wrong.

5.     You’re outsourced contact center isn’t representing your brand well. My take: it has never been more important to reassure your customers that they are understand, valued, and cared-for. If your outsourced provider hasn’t embraced your brand, how can they deliver on your brand promise?

You can read the study summary below. If you’d like to know more about how Skybridge Americas can help you increase customer loyalty by delivering a consistently superior customer experience, please reach out. We would love to talk!

READ the entire article here >

-Bobby Matthews

Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Skybridge Americas
bmatthews@skybridgeamericas.com


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