How businesses can improve customer service by making it personal for workers

Recent research by Qualtrics revealed that Australian customer service workers go out of their way to ensure customers have a good experience because it’s personally satisfying for them. The research also revealed that companies could potentially improve their customer service performance by providing more feedback and recognition to customer service staff.

Bill McMurray, Managing Director, Asia Pacific and Japan, Qualtrics, said:

“Most businesses are aware by now that customer service can make or break them. It’s easy for customers to share their opinions and experiences on social media and other platforms, so news of bad service travels fast and people vote with their feet.

“Most businesses know they need to become customer-obsessed but many aren’t sure how to go about it. The good news is that the Qualtrics research discovered the desire to provide great customer service comes naturally to most Australian workers. Therefore, improving customer service could simply be a matter of harnessing that desire and rewarding those workers.”

The Qualtrics research revealed that 88 per cent of customer service workers go out of their way either all of the time or most of the time to ensure customers have a good experience. For those workers, 80 per cent go out of their way because it’s personally satisfying and only 12 per cent do it because their compensation will increase.

Only 68 per cent of respondents said customers have a chance to provide ratings feedback about their performance, which suggests many customer service representatives want to provide good service regardless of whether anyone else is watching; they do it because it makes them feel good.

For workers that get customer reviews, 77 per cent care a great deal about those reviews. 19 per cent care a moderate amount or a little. Just three per cent don’t care at all.

Bill McMurray said:

“These results show that, while most customer service workers will do their best to provide excellent customer service in all conditions, they still value feedback highly. Organisations that can capture and communicate that feedback can achieve a double benefit: on the one hand it demonstrates to customers that they care about their experience; on the other hand, it shows employees that their efforts have been noticed.”

90 per cent of the survey respondents said creating a great customer experience is in their top five priorities. For 38 per cent, it’s their number one priority. Yet only 41 per cent say their employer rewards them for helping deliver a good customer experience.

Qualtrics has identified four key steps businesses can take to improve customer service, even if they already pride themselves on providing excellent customer service:

1. Tie customer service to compensation. Of customer service workers who don’t go out of their way to help customers, 43 per cent say it’s because it doesn’t affect their compensation, while 25 per cent say helping customers doesn’t necessarily advance their career. Understanding what makes employees tick is crucial to get the best performance from them. Companies should therefore survey their own staff to find out whether tying customer service quality to compensation could boost performance.

2. Ask for customer feedback. Only three per cent of respondents didn’t care what customers said about their service. That means 97 per cent of employees want to know what customers think. Getting this feedback from customers and communicating it to employees will help both groups feel engaged and will likely help improve customer service performance.

3. Recognise good performance. Of those that don’t care what customers think, 21 per cent said it was because employees don’t get recognised for good customer ratings. This suggests that, if companies did recognise those employees’ contribution, they could see an upswing in performance.

4. Hire employees that are naturally customer-obsessed. The survey results showed that many customer service workers do their best work regardless of external factors. 77 per cent said they’d help a customer always or most of the time, even if the problem is outside their area of responsibility. 63 per cent said they’d be willing to work outside business hours to help a customer either all the time or most of the time. Hiring people that share these values is an important step towards providing exceptional customer service.

Bill McMurray said:

“With so many respondents clearly keen to provide great customer service, it’s easy to imagine the improvements businesses could achieve if they took these steps. No matter how good a business’s customer service is, it can always be better. Companies with the best customer service can outperform their competitors, which is important in an increasingly-disrupted market.”