When I rang a contact centre the other day, the call began with a recorded message from the CEO saying she fully understood my frustration, but it was no excuse for anger or rudeness and could I “be nice”.
Another call centre I had to phone to chase a convoluted and long running financial services change of contact details had trained its staff to repeat sickly sweet phrases even while my frustration was rising. She didn’t engage with me, or even answer my point that while I was being forced to go through an ever-growing number of “security questions” to continue with the call, they were not required to prove who they were in any way, despite the fact that they made the call. I was basically ignored and treated as a difficult customer.
Are either of these examples of customer communications ones that the business should be proud of? Isn’t loyalty about empathy and understanding, rather than about treating us as naughty, unruly, badly-behaved children. Wouldn’t psychologists call this a passive-aggressive approach, and is this the right way to get your customers to love you?
In a recent conversation with a loyalty services provider, I was given the following nuggets of information:
- Loyalty is created because of the values you stand for rather than the value it brings in terms of revenue from the customer.
- Loyalty is a bi-product of your engagement with the customer, not the starting point. It is what you get if you are doing everything right.
- Data doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have insight.
- No-one has yet qualified what you need to do across business end to end to achieve first class customer experience.
This is truly wonderful theory, but if loyalty comes from great customer service, and needs a totally connected, seamless approach, with not one organisational silo to be seen, then could it be argued that many companies are not starting their journey from the best place.
The other element to be added to this debate of course – and it will be covered from all angles at The Loyalty Surgery, October 16th& 17this that technology in the form of artificial intelligence, automatic and people-less systems, has the potential to make customer communication, and the chances of reaching a satisfactory result, even less likely.
In which case, it could be argued that keeping the customer loyalty programme well away from the customer service teams is a very sensible thing to do. So if I was furiously angry with my bank, or the parcel delivery company, but they both gave me loyalty rewards, would I still use them?
It is a very interesting question, and I look forward to The Loyalty Surgery conference discussion, with some of the best loyalty professionals in the business. See you there.