Make or break experiences

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  • Case study: TGI Friday’s. Click here to find out how investment in staff training helped raised customer satisfaction for the brand
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  • RSA Group (owner of More Than) chief marketing officer, Pete Markey, talks about how marketers should be central in the customer experience

Bad call centre experiences are a particularly sore point for customers, according to a study by research firm Maritz, shown exclusively to Marketing Week. And among UK mobile operators, Vodafone and Three are seen to be the worst offenders in failing to take responsibility for customers’ issues on a call.

The research into the mobile phone market looks at events termed ’make or break’ that turn a customer from loyal to devoted or from passive to disgusted. More than half of all ’break’ experiences happen during phone calls, as opposed to in store or online.

Failing to take responsibility for a problem is also the most common reason for a call centre turning a customer off a brand for good. A spokesperson for Vodafone says that, for contact centre staff, taking responsibility for any issues raised with them is a specific part of their training.

If the problem is one that cannot be resolved at that time, there is also a formal escalation process, of which staff are made aware. Vodafone’s spokesperson says: “All our calls are recorded and if we track any failure in the way complaints are handled, we take action to make sure it is not repeated.

“We also have an internal process – a forum that meets fortnightly – which allows employees to raise issues that are causing problems for our customers so we can put remedies in place. We make sure our customers can contact us easily online, including webchat, an eforum, Facebook, Twitter and by email and phone. We have also developed self-help videos on YouTube and avatars for billing enquiries. Over a year, we have reduced customer complaints by 50%.”

Yet while Vodafone is working on these issues, the highest proportion of ’make’ – or positive – experiences among mobile operators occur in high street stores, Maritz’s study finds. The three factors most likely to influence a make experience in store are staff being knowledgeable, courteous and communicating clearly.

Brands may use a variety of approaches to measure the customer experience they provide. But alongside traditional scoring models that give a general picture of how well a brand does most of the time, companies need to take account of the extremes of good and bad experiences because the make or break moments are the ones most likely to push someone to decide to give their custom long-term to a brand, or to leave and never return.

How UK mobile phone brands compare (source: Maritz)





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