Salesforce recently reached out to more than 2,600 customer service professionals around the world to learn how they manage ever-rising customer demands. Their findings took shape in the second annual “State of Service” report, which details the habits of top-performing service teams around the world.
The 57-page report (which you can download here) characterizes the challenges of supporting today’s hyperconnected customer. It also delves into the technology the world’s best customer service teams rely on to deliver outstanding service.
Looking at the data from a broad perspective, one thing is clear: if companies want to drive customer loyalty and reduce churn, they have to prioritize the customer experience.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the report’s key takeaways on customer service, and discuss the role customer feedback plays in successful customer experience programs.
Key Takeaways on the State of Customer Service
1. Personalized service boosts customer loyalty.
Modern consumers are ultra-connected and empowered to find the best solutions for their needs. They use technology throughout the buyer journey to make more educated purchase decisions.
This sets the bar higher than ever for customer service teams, who must deliver top-notch service across many environments and channels. Customers expect understanding and personalization each time they interaction with a company.
69% of consumers and 82% of business decision-makers say personalized customer care has a major or moderate impact on their loyalty to companies.
52% (more than half) of consumers said they were likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t make an effort to personalize communications to them as an individual.
Delivering personalized service and demonstrating a deep understanding of your customers will help move the needle. Customers are highly attuned to messaging that speaks to them as individuals, so the more you can connect with them, the more likely you are to keep them coming back.
It helps to periodically survey customers on communication preferences and service quality. Many customer service teams measure overall satisfaction every several months to get a bird’s-eye-view of customer service as a whole. And, of course, it’s also highly beneficial to measure the quality of individual service interactions with CSAT surveys.
2. A single, unified view of the customer helps service teams excel.
In-depth customer profiles benefit every department within an organization, and they’re essential when it comes to delivering the highly personalized customer service that customers expect.
Service teams are better equipped to quickly resolve customer issues when they have one source of truth to reference. In fact, comprehensive customer profiles are a hallmark of success, as Salesforce’s research shows. Unified views equip service teams to respond quickly and effectively.
85% of top service teams excel at having a shared, single view of the customer—while only 25% of under-performers report the same.
A unified view of the customer allows teams to:
Better connect with customers
Provide personalized customer experiences
Ensure consistency across channels
Take a proactive rather than reactive approach to customer care
And the positive impact doesn’t stop at the customer. When customer service agents feel empowered and appreciated, they become more invested in the success of the customers they support. That means better service and better business.
Customer feedback plays a big part in customer profiles. With access to customer preferences and real-time customer satisfaction metrics, customer service agents can approach each interaction with more foresight.
Integrating customer feedback with Salesforce helps agents see the whole picture clearly. They can quickly identify promoters and detractors by their Net Promoter Score® in Salesforce, and that knowledge might color their approach, ultimately leading to a better interaction.
3. Companies are investing more in their customer service agents.
Speaking of empowered service agents, the report took a deeper look at how companies are supporting their customer service teams.
As you’d expect, training is a key piece of the puzzle for the most effective teams.
90% of the top performers say they have the right training to do their jobs better.
And while advancements in training and technology often come with a hefty price tag, it appears they’re paying off.
Top performing customer service teams said they highly agree with the following statements:
My company and executive team provide on-demand training (91%)
I have the right amount of training (90%)
Agents have comprehensive, updated, and accessible views of customer/product info (88%)
Agents have decision-making power to provide personalized solutions to customers (86%)
Agents have tools and tech to utilize customer data for problem solving (86%)
These findings say a lot about team enablement. Customer service teams need new technology and training in order to keep up with their customers, but companies often don’t budget enough for progress.
Tying your customer service performance to other major, cross-departmental business initiatives—like growing customer accounts and boosting brand promotion—can help companies see the value in investing in service.
4. Emerging metrics will change the way we measure customer service.
Standard customer service metrics revolve around response time, resolution rate, and case deflection. These stats are important measures of efficiency, but they don’t tell the whole story.
Companies are starting to recognize that customer service metrics should emphasize customer happiness and customer loyalty most of all. If customer service agents resolve cases a bit more slowly, but their efforts result in higher customer satisfaction levels, then that’s a job well done.
66% of service teams have implemented more customer-oriented KPIs to measure performance.
Many customer service teams are now looking to customer-centric metrics, like Net Promoter Score (NPS®), customer satisfaction (CSAT) score, and customer effort score (CES). These numbers reflect customer experience a bit more accurately, and they help service teams focus on the greater good they’re delivering.
Salesforce predicts that these emerging metrics will soon skyrocket.
KPIs like social promoter score (SPS) are expected to grow by 111%, while agent impact on Net Promoter Score is projected to increase by 100%.
This shift toward customer-centric KPIs can really benefit an organization. Customer service teams can focus less on reducing their case handle time and more on accomplishing goals that directly impact customer satisfaction and loyalty, like delivering pleasant, personalized service.
As Salesforce found, customer service teams already tend to prioritize the customer above KPIs, so it makes sense for their performance metrics to reflect that.
79% of service teams say they prioritize customers’ needs over hitting their performance metrics.
5. Omnichannel service is accelerating.
Modern customer service happens over a number channels, and the best customer service teams excel at seamless handoffs. They practice consistent, personalized service, no matter where or when the interaction takes place.
Why? Because these professionals have a greater understanding of customer expectations—and they rise to meet them.
More than 75% of service teams rate their abilities as above average for omni-channel service interactions, and 89% feel they’re excellent at providing seamless handoffs during a service call.
Teams that don’t excel at omnichannel service cite a lack of training and resources as the main reason. When agents don’t have the necessary skills or support to handle service requests, the omnichannel experience suffers.
As service becomes even more critical to business success, it’s important for companies to budget accordingly. Customer service teams need cutting-edge technology and regular training to keep up with the demands of the connected customer. With additional resources and recognition, agents are empowered to deliver exceptional service.
We recommend reading Salesforce’s report in full to see how the best service teams in the world are rising to meet new challenges. We’re all taking notes.