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OPEN MIC-Web Extra – Customer loyalty rises, falls at point of every purchase

Tue, 08/31/2010 - 8:00pm
Michelle Nowak, Global Head of Strategy, Solutions and Marketing for Cable, Broadband and Satellite at Convergys

We've all heard stories about customers who leave because of a bad service experience, but what about those who are turned away at the time of purchase? It's a fact. Bad experiences do occur when customers try to buy. The usual culprit: slow, poorly integrated order systems that frustrate and alienate the buyer. When a customer is set on the path to dissatisfaction from the outset, it's a potent reminder that customer loyalty rises or falls at the point of every purchase.

By Michelle NowakIn the Convergys 2010 Consumer Scorecard Survey, 83 percent of customers said they remain loyal as long as they're satisfied with their most recent service experience. For most customers, satisfaction is the same as loyalty. In fact, they are 25 percent more likely to be loyal if they have a satisfying experience.

Unfortunately, Convergys' research on the customer experience in the cable, broadband and satellite markets reveals that as many as 12 to 13 percent of customers complain about a negative experience when trying to place an order or make a purchase.

To put this in perspective, remember: These are customers who are unhappy when they actually want to spend money with a company. When it comes to buying a product or service, no level of customer dissatisfaction is acceptable, especially when the BSS technology exists to easily solve these issues. As a recent high-profile incident illustrates, a single negative purchasing experience can push a customer straight into the arms of a competitor.

The case involved a customer seeking to upgrade her cable/satellite service package. Thinking it would be simplest to start out online instead of by phone, she tried placing her order through the company's website. Her troubles were only beginning. First she was required to engage in a lengthy IM chat with an agent. Next, she was routed to the site's order entry page, which didn't recognize her, even though she was logged in to her account. Finally, she had to re-enter the chat room and wait another five minutes while an agent confirmed the order. That was the last straw. 

The customer, who was also a magazine editor, blogged about this frustrating experience on her website, charitably omitting the offending company's name. She's now eager to give her business to a competitor, and she's probably not alone. When one customer has an unpleasant buying experience, the odds are that others are, too.

Fortunately, there's a simple fix for this kind of problem. Solutions that speed up the order process and make purchasing an easy, fast and rewarding experience for the customer are readily available.

Specific to the cable, broadband and satellite markets, such solutions speed accurate delivery via automated, end-to-end order orchestration, ensuring a smooth, pleasant experience for the customer purchasing new services or upgrading to a new offer. These smart systems convert service inquiries into loyalty-building programs and new sales.

How they work:

  • At the front line, service reps leverage the system's "intelligence" to act quickly on customer needs.
  • Pre-built screen flows that collect pertinent customer and shopping data shoot information on relevant personalized offerings right to the agent's monitor.
  • Armed with this real-time data, the agent can quickly set up the new service – boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty – then cross-sell another high-margin product that matches the customer's profile on personal interests and known purchasing history.

In addition to sector-specific solutions, companies in any industry now can benefit from centralized, simplified business policy management solutions that deliver strong customer satisfaction beginning with the sale. By leveraging customer and product information in real time across channels, these solutions act on the known history and preferences of the customer to guide care and tailored service offers. The results: a consistent and persistent experience for the customer with every interaction across all sales channels, and for the service provider, enhanced customer satisfaction, stronger loyalty, churn reduction and increased revenue for the company.

Indeed, with the variety of intelligent technology solutions now available in the marketplace, there's no excuse, at any point in the customer lifecycle, for a negative sales experience that undermines loyalty. It has been proven that it is far more expensive for a company to obtain a new client than to keep an existing one. This highlights the importance of having the right systems in place to ensure that a new or existing customer is not driven away at the point of purchase. Every contact is a first impression these days, and the quality of that impression is up to you.

E-Mail: michelle.a.nowak@convergys.com

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