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Mar 1, 2007
The study calls for a major shift in thinking about how companies should interact with their customers. They must become, "empathy Engines," it urges, and execute an organization wide approach to providing service to customers. The challenge for most companies, however, is that they have an incomplete understanding of what constitutes good customer service and, as a consequence, their interactions with customers often leave a lot to be desired, the authors contend.
Called, "The Empathy Engine: Turning Customer Service into a Sustainable Advantage," it was conducted by Michaels Opinion Research and sponsored by Katzenbach Partners LLC, a management consulting firm. It is based on interviews with customer service executives from companies across a range of industries, which are widely viewed as leaders in providing customer service, along with a telephone survey of more than 1,000 American consumers.
By identifying what these leaders are doing right, the report draws attention to where some companies are falling short. The report also lays out recommendations on what companies should be doing to improve, so they can reap the benefits of delivering great service to their customers on a consistent basis.
"What we confirmed by talking with some of the best is that great customer service can't be delivered through simple algorithms, such as sripted call center responses. Instead, it takes a broader, more empathetic response: A sustained effort by every employee to think about how what they do ultimately impacts the customer's experience," says Traci Entel of Katzenbach Partners and one of the report's authors.
Some widely accepted customer service best practices actually undermine the customer experience, according to the report. Following are some of the myths of customer service.
The consumer telephone survey component of the report indicates that virtually all American shoppers, believe customer service is an important factor in where they shop. This is almost identical with the 95 percent of respondents who said price is an important factor.
Furthermore, more than three out of five of consumers polled say they will not make future purchases from stores or other service providers where they feel they have had a bad customer service. This is, "Pretty clear evidence that companies that don't succeed at providing consistently high quality service to their customers are going to pay a heavy price in the future," says Entel.
"We've introduced the term 'Empathy Engine' to capture a way of thinking about and organizing a company so that it can, as an institution, put empathy into action via its customers," she says. Companies that want to improve their delivery of customer service need to become, "Empathy Engines," in which not only frontline employees, but also managers and senior leaders, work together to collectively stand in their customers' shoes in order to better understand and address customer needs.
Rather than thinking about customer service as a single interaction with the customer, the Empathy Engine takes a holistic approach to customer service. Creation of an Empathy Engine calls for the following:
"Becoming an Empathy Engine requires a major commitment from the entire organization to see the world from the customer's perspective, and to act accordingly to deliver a consistent, high quality customer experience," says Sarah Grayson, a Katzenbach Partners' consultant. "But, in our experience, the benefits, in terms of increased customer loyalty and business, and enhanced employee satisfaction, are well worth the costs of getting there."
Topic: Business Strategies
Related Articles: customer service
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