The Twenty-First Century Customer Bill of Rights

Voice of the Customer

The Twenty-First Century Customer Bill of Rights

By Elaine Cascio, Vice President  |  June 01, 2014

We all know that consumers have become more demanding and that they are more likely to abandon a provider after a single bad experience. But what is it that customers really want when they do business with a company? Here’s my take on a customer bill of rights.

  1. Know who I am
  2. Value me as a customer
  3. Understand my needs
  4. Treat me with respect
  5. Value my time
  6. Make it easy

Customers want to do business with companies that know them. But is this what they get? In most cases, they reach tired old IVR menus that don’t know – or seem to care – who they are. Their calls may be transferred multiple times before they reach someone who can help them, they have widely different experiences depending on which channel they choose, and often they must repeat the same information multiple times before they are helped.

How can you be sure that you’re not violating the customer bill of rights?

Know who I am

Customers want you to not only know who they are, but understand their relationship with your company. That may mean routing their call to a specific group, providing them with a personalized landing page on your website, or creating a personalized voice menu. For financial institutions, customize interactions to the types of accounts a customer has with your business, for example. For companies with loyalty programs, knowing who the customer is should be second nature.

Value me as a customer

Regardless of their status, customers want to think that they are important to your business.  Companies show that they value customers through how calls are handled in the contact center – are customers rushed off the phone, or are agents engaged in emotional listening that enables them to serve the customer better? Are voice, web and mobile interfaces welcoming and friendly, or generic and stiff? Do customers get the sense that you want to do business with them? 

Understand my needs

Anticipate why a customer is contacting you. Do they have an outstanding claim that they’re likely calling about, or have they just received a new piece of equipment? Regardless of channel, use the customer’s history to respond appropriately. Customers also appreciate proactive outbound notifications for flight delays, prescription refills, and other alerts.

Treat me with respect

Just as they like to be valued, customers don’t want to think that you are trying to get rid of them or talking down to them. Don’t force them into using specific channels, but provide access to what they need across all appropriate channels. And make sure that your user interface and language on all channels treats customers with respect by using tools like usability testing, personas, and focus groups.

Value my time

Customers don’t want to spend five minutes in the IVR or five minutes waiting in queue. They don’t want to be transferred, and they absolutely don’t want to repeat their issue multiple times. They also don’t want to have to call back because something was miscommunicated or the agent was so busy trying to make AHT goals that he forgot to provide an important piece of information. Customers also want you to know what they’ve been up to on other channels to enable a seamless journey for them.

Make it easy

As customers, we like to do business with companies that make it easy for us. Make sure that customers can accomplish your top three to five contact types with minimal effort, that it is easy to reach you on multiple channels, and that they can accomplish a task completely on their channel of choice.

Elaine Cascio is a vice president at Vanguard Communications Corp. (, a consulting firm specializing in customer experience, self service, contact center processes, operations and technology

Elaine Cascio is a vice president at Vanguard Communications Corp. (, a consulting firm specializing in customer experience, self service, contact center processes, operations and technology.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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