Keeping people happy

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A couple of bits of research hit the press this week that should worry those in the customer services game.

Apparently over two-thirds of customers feel complaints made to call centres are not being taken seriously enough, while just one bad call centre experience would cause 68 per cent of people to go elsewhere.

Ever since uSwitch came along, moving between service providers has become somewhat of a national sport. At the same time, people are now much more likely to go to a competitor after a bad experience because of the increasing ease of switching.

While this kind of research has definitely been seen before, it serves as an important reminder now the recession is over/waning/about to return (delete as appropriate).

Those who dabble in marketing will remember the significant difference in cost for acquiring a new customer versus retaining the ones you have.

In short, it costs a lot more to bring in the new ones. The new dimension is that many discontented ex-customers will now also go and tell others about their bad experiences online as well as ‘down the pub’.

I get the feeling a lot of this discontent is a result of the furious cost-cutting that went on during 2009. Choosing cheaper suppliers, nailing existing providers to the wall and attempting excessive up-selling will all have been contributing factors.

Though necessary, this unstoppable drive to bash down overheads may now be coming back to bite executives in the form of sliding customer numbers and increasingly bad opinions of call centres.

Now more breathing space is emerging as people start spending again, those with outsourced or in-house call centres need to ensure they are refocusing all their efforts on keeping existing customers happy.

In an outsourced capacity now is the time to re-forge damaged supplier relationships, look at training and technology, work to use call-centre feedback to business advantage; and generally work to overhaul the customer experience. In 2010 companies need to work out how to make grumpy customers happy, in the most effective and efficient way possible.

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