Customer Experience Featured Article

Oracle: Many Companies Falling Down on the Customer Service Job

March 09, 2015

When it comes to customer service, most everyone can agree that it's a very valuable part of the overall operation. But an Oracle (News - Alert) study also shows that the exact value is somewhat unclear, and difficult to quantify. That's a prospect that's raising some marked difficulties for businesses, and forcing some to reconsider how customer service's value is measured.

The Oracle study—titled “Modern Customer Service: Are You Outpacing Your Executive Peers?” and carried out by Forbes Insights—started off with a bang: 62 percent of respondents don't understand just how important customer service is to an organization, and just what kind of impact can be realized when customer service is part of a wide-ranging strategic goal. That's bad enough, but 88 percent of respondents indicated that there is “significant progress” being made in terms of “delivering modern customer service.” That suggests some real disconnect in terms of what people want to see happen and what is actually happening. Indeed, the study also noted that there are a number of factors keeping companies from seeing the real value customer service can deliver. Among these are the definitions of customer service used, as well as a heavy reliance on “traditional channels and metrics.”

There are, however, some gains being made here. Companies are gaining ground in the importance of using customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and several major customer service tools are slated for investment in 2015. Online customer service tools were planned investment for 55 percent of respondents, and mobile apps came in second at 52 percent. Knowledge management was a plan for 51 percent of respondents and self-service systems weren't far behind at 47 percent.

But there are issues afoot that need to be addressed. Only 38 percent of respondents called modern customer service “a companywide priority.” Worse, 60 percent reportedly don't consider customer service a “key agent for increasing sales,” while 47 percent don't see its impact in retaining current customers. To top it off, 85 percent don't see customer service as being a tool to enhance a brand or other marketing, showing there are many opportunities being missed.

Most of the tools involved in customer service contribute to at least one of two points: the gathering of customer knowledge, and the application of same. It's not enough to simply have the knowledge of what customers want in place; the knowledge must be put to use to have any lasting impact on an overall operation. With customers increasingly turning to mobile devices in brick-and-mortar stores, and routinely researching prices and offers before making purchases, knowing what the customer wants—and beating the competition to the punch—is vital for continued operations. Asia-Pacific CMOs, meanwhile, were widely seen planning to invest in the customer experience to boost operations.

Customer service has a lot of value for any organization, and can be used to not only turn inquiries into purchases, but turn customers into repeat customers as well. A business that doesn't master the lessons customer service has to teach is likely to end up failing against those that do.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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