Managing Data or Customer Service; Which should be Your 2014 Priority?

This post was prompted by an article I read recently which proposed that companies should hire a CDO (Chief Data Officer). Whilst I agree that there is an awful lot of data flowing into businesses today that needs to be managed, I believe that we don’t really need another C-suite title. I think that the CIO is the best person for the job and more than used to managing huge data flows.

However, I also believe that there is an even greater need for CCOs (Chief Customer Officers), which have started to appear in a few forward-thinking organisations. Unless your customers are satisfied and hopefully delighted, there won’t be a business to use all that data in the very near future. So for that reason and to answer the question in the title of this post, my vote goes to customer service, but I’m sure you expected that, didn’t you?

This is why I thought I would cover some of the customer service areas that will need reviewing in 2014 and some ideas and solutions on how to address them. After the stress of queuing to buy all those last minute purchases last week, did you have to call about a replacement or suffer the queues for the return of some of the gifts you received this week? If so, then you have certainly experienced huge variations in customer service.

I’m going to use my own experiences here in California over the last few days, to highlight some of the opportunities that retail in particular has, to up their game in the New Year. However, if you work in a different industry I am sure that many of these comments will be just as relevant for you too, so please read on.

EMAIL: According to Forrester, the usage of email has been surpassed by web self-services today. However, whether it is from a PC, tablet or smartphone, customers contact a business and expect an answer almost immediately. In fact according to another Forrester report, 41% of customers expect a reply to their email within six hours, yet only 36% of retailers manage to respond within that delay.

Email is a popular customer service connection point

SUGGESTION: Customers don’t like waiting today. Therefore if you can’t guarantee the expected timing, at least inform your customer by return that you will do your best to respond as quickly as possible and by when you will reply. And keep in mind the situation is likely to get worse and customers will become even more dem anding for a quick reply. See below for further solutions.

CHAT: This is a great alternative for customers since it often pops up automatically when someone is searching online. It’s nice to have  the choice and opportunity to get immediate responses, rather than having to call or email, especially if your web search remains less than satisfactory. However, if you’re going to propose a chat, then the person connecting with the customer is unlikely to do the best support job if they are trying to manage several conversations at the same time. Continue Reading

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