Improving customer service by getting the customer to take responsibility too

How many times have you been on a website when you have seen an annoying pop-up window appear asking you to complete a customer survey?

Or even worse, when you agree to take part and are then confronted with some thirty questions asking you to rate specific qualities on a range of one to ten? I understand that suppliers want to understand as much as possible about what their customers think of them, and then feed the data into their customer data analytics in order to deliver an even better service, sometimes the process can just leave you cold.

However, customers can be fickle and I understand how organizations are under pressure to deliver great customer service in order to safeguard their brand, increase revenues and remain competitive. Hence the need for such online surveys, where results can be fed into customer experience analytics programs in order to understand how companies can serve their customers in the right way. Whether online, via email, text or telephone, data garnered via surveys is still an important source of information. Once analyzed, organizations can take the appropriate action to remedy any issues.

And yet, increasingly, there seems to be a new trend emerging where not only does the customer get to deliver feedback about a supplier. Now, suppliers are rating the customers too and informing them accordingly. Many of us are aware of how a negative score from a customer can help damage a brand, especially when it’s posted and shared on various websites for all to see. After all, it’s all too easy to post comments and too many of the wrong type can lead to a headache for most businesses; despite a sea of five stars, just a handful of negative ratings can put such an immense pressure on a company to defend itself that it can have a detrimental effect on their business. For now, customers have held the trump card, the power to praise a company or complain about a service.

Not anymore. Nowadays, suppliers are starting to rate their customers too, and they are telling them about it. The point here is that if a customer behaves badly or is truly in the wrong, this information is then shared throughout the business and even with other affiliated organizations, and it should help to make customers behave more responsibly. Get in a cab and cause a fuss or behave discourteously to the driver for no apparent reason and you’ll be scored badly. And the next time you fire up your smartphone app to order a car, it may just decide to refuse your request. Likewise, stay in a hotel and leave your room in a complete mess, be rude to the waiting staff or refuse to be quiet in your room after midnight, and you may just get such a negative score that you’ll be needing to find a different hotel next time you come to town. Conversely, if you’re always kind and polite, ever ready with a compliment for a member of staff, or if you tip well at your local restaurant of coffee house, you may just find that next time you visit, the food and drink are on them.

Using data and analytics to improve customer satisfaction and customer service levels continues to be an important strategy for businesses today. But now with vendors and suppliers scoring customers and telling them that they are being rated, the customer now shoulders as much responsibility as the supplier for an all-round great experience. This kind of bi-directional scoring can only be a good thing; now, the onus is not all on the supplier to deliver fantastic service, it is also shared by the consumer.

And of course, the more data that is collected, whether created by the customer or the supplier, the more it can be analyzed, the more insight that can be gained and the more an organization can improve its service levels. The hope is that it all leads to friendlier customers, a more customer-centric organization and smiles all round.

So, next time you are asked to complete a survey on a business about its product or service, just remember that the company you are rating may just be completing a survey itself about you, too.

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