Companies are well aware that customer service could be improved in the region. But knowing how to measure the current level of service and tracking improvements over time requires skill. Anil Modi, the president in the Middle East and North Africa for the customer lifecycle management business at Aegis, shares some tips on what businesses here may want to know.
How do companies here measure the current level of their customer service?
As an operating unit [there are key performance indicators], or a number of calls you answer in a certain time period. Depending on how many calls there are in the queue is one level of satisfaction, because no consumer wants to wait in a queue. The second is when the call is picked up - whether that issue has been resolved or not. There are other ways to know.
If you do a customer-service survey - actually asking the consumers if they're happy with the call service. You may have a measurement of customer satisfaction for a particular transaction. For example, you [place] a call and then SMS. Right after, you say: "Were you happy with the call? But will you recommend the brand to your friends?" That's a measure of customer "experience" - and, for that, you have to measure how the customer is interacting with the brand, with social media and how the product and service by itself is.
How do businesses go about managing customer expectations?
We look at customer service experience. We say "experience" is equal to engagement divided by expectation. So, for any experience, engagement is one part; the expectation is another part. For example, if you fly a low-cost airline your expectation is they won't serve food. So if you don't get served food, then they don't fail to meet your expectation. Unfortunately, sometimes we [as companies] set expectations too high. It's about being more aware of where you've gone wrong in setting the expectation.
Which sectors of businesses here are struggling most with handling customer-service issues?
We know telecom is one big sector. Some customers have shifted from one [Etisalat or du] to the other, and nothing much has changed. Definitely there is a huge push possible there. Airlines is another sector, worldwide. The financial industry - largely banks and insurance companies - is another sector [as is] hospitality.
How can a company within one of these areas ensure it continues beating the competition in service?
Generally, once you do better than the competitor, you should not look for perfection. Perfection is extremely expensive.
But how does a business ensure it goes far enough so that its competitor does not catch up with its service experience?
It [requires] continuous monitoring. But some people go the theoretical way and say: "We want to make sure our customer experience is so superb". Do you have the money or business plan to do that? It is feasible to do it, but your business plan may not allow you to do it.