How valuable is a good customer interaction? I recently called a company for help, and the person assisting me was very patient as I needed to turn on my computer, find my password and log into my account. I jokingly asked him if he was measured on the length of his phone calls because I was going to ruin his average call time. He explained that he wasn’t measured on call time because his company recognized that time spent on the initial call could prevent future calls and save them money in the long run. That is a company focused on customer experience!
The Importance of an Interaction Point in a Customer’s Journey
As a consumer, this experience engendered loyalty. As a marketer, this experience left me appreciating the business wisdom of the company. They had identified a touch point that matters from a customer who matters. If the phone call doesn’t go well it is likely to cost them in a variety of ways: additional follow-up calls, reduced customer satisfaction, or a reduction in customer retention and future revenue due to a negative customer experience. This company found an important interaction point in a customer’s journey and put in place measures to maximize the customer’s experience. However, not all interactions are important. The challenge is to identify the ones that matter. Analytics can help companies quantify the value of customer interactions and enable prioritization of interactions based on associated costs and impact to revenue. So, how did the company in the example above determine that mine was an important touch point?
They may have run a test program, allowing some calls to proceed as long as necessary while trying to minimize the time of other calls. Afterwards, they could track key success metrics such as customer satisfaction, revenue per customer, and the cost of follow-up phone calls for these two groups to determine the impact. This type of test must be carefully constructed, requiring that the two groups are comparable and that the only difference is the length of the call. As part of measuring call value, other factors such as return on investment and the individual customer’s lifetime value should also be considered. It may be the case that not all callers are worth the extra time and attention, and that some customers may warrant shorter call times.
Once the interactions that matter have been identified, it becomes critically important to act on that information swiftly and invest the time required to fully resolve customer issues so that loyalty and financial metrics will be positively impacted. Otherwise, the risk of customer defection is heightened. On the other hand, if certain customers are deemed to be of low value and have a low likelihood of increasing their value, then it may be wise to end the call quickly.
Companies are always working to improve their customers’ experiences and companies that can identify and optimize interactions that matter will indeed have a competitive advantage.