Customers are Crying Out to be Heard; Are You Listening?
“Thank you for calling. Your call may be monitored for quality and training purposes.”
Does this sound familiar? It should. This is the common phrase that precedes most calls consumers make to U.S. businesses. On every recorded interaction consumers have with an American company, they are sharing an average of three clues that could help the business be better. Sadly, the data shows companies aren’t listening to this important information.
Every year, more than a billion customer interactions take place in just the sub-industries of pharma, health insurance, and health systems in the U.S. That is an average of three recorded interactions for every one of us in these sectors alone. Add food delivery, ordinary purchases, communication and home maintenance and the interactions spike dramatically.
When companies don’t capture this unsolicited feedback, it falls into a black, empty hole. It’s no wonder this frustrates customers who keep speaking into the void and asking the question: is anyone listening?
Our inaugural Customer Voices Trends Report, available at no cost here offers up core insights derived from listening to more than 14,000 customer voices and gleaning 45,000 separate messages from those interactions. Though drawn from our healthcare clientele, the data is useful for any company and may be more essential now than at any time previous.
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested all of us and has strained the business processes designed to serve customers. Listening to and analyzing the context of what, when, and why business process gaps occur has unlocked root causes that are actionable, producing a win-win of fixing unprofitable processes while easing the customer experience.
More impactful than the business process gaps, have been the insights gleaned about humans themselves and where they’re asking for help from businesses in relation to the pandemic. We’ve observed that the nature of conversations between customer and customer representatives are weighted with much greater emotion, expressions of vulnerability, and desperation for help from the companies they are contacting. And, because the pandemic is affecting all of us, we have observed the level of preparedness and strain that these conversations have placed on customer representatives to produce helpful answers with empathy and authentic human understanding.
In addition to the pandemic, these past few months have produced a new level of awareness of the trauma and destruction caused by systematic and generational racism. For those companies seeking ways to perform better, listening is critical to understanding and better serving customers with greater cultural competence – regardless of sector. By analyzing conversations, and the business processes that surround them, at scale, we can detect biases that may be ingrained in our language and the customer experience design itself.
The 5 things consumers want companies to know:
You need to meet us halfway: The No. 1 concern raised is whether customers will be able to pay their bills and afford their treatment/care/service/goods. Customers are expressing that times are tough and they need help in the form of flexibility, discounts and financial assistance in order to keep their relationships with your business going.
You’re not easy to do business with: 50% of the time, customers will tell you why they’re dissatisfied without being asked; 33% of the time they voice frustration, they mention ?confusing bills or complicated processes.
Response matters: 40% of the time, customers share unsolicited positive feedback. More than 60% of these comments are related to how company representatives respond to their calls for help. Agents who are empathetic, knowledgeable and go above and beyond to understand a problem and find a solution are creating customer loyalty.
Let us repeat: Response really matters: Despite evidence that it is valued when agents respond compassionately and efficiently, agent empathy is down across-the-board.
The “Eddy Effect”: Too often, customers’ needs are not met when they first reach out for help and they are stuck in a vicious circle requiring them to ask for the same help over and over again because open issues do not get resolved quickly enough. Company reputation drops when this occurs.
3 ways companies can respond:
Companies cannot fix economic security for their customers, but they can show they’re listening by the way they respond.
Remove barriers: Corporate policies, especially those related to billing, are complicated and it’s your responsibility to do something about it. Understand what causes confusion and complications for your customers and take action to remove those barriers.
Empathetic leadership drives empathetic results: Responsibility for responding with understanding should not fall entirely on the shoulders of the contact center representatives who are primarily responsible for communicating the messages. Leaders have the responsibility to develop resources, guides, training, technology, business practices and processes that reflect an understanding of the humans they serve.?
Stop the “Eddy Effect”: Know where your customers are getting stuck. (Hint – start with the topics generating all your repeat calls.) These Eddies are the No. 1 source of customer pain and you need to develop a plan to remove them.?
Psychologists tell us that the greatest human need is understanding. The events in our world in the past six months have influenced the data in this Customer Voices Report, and the bottom line is that businesses need to do better at understanding their customers.
To do that, they must first listen.