The current state of rising inflation is making customers around the world more frugal, and it is impacting both B2B and B2C markets—and causing many companies to view planned investments with more caution and even delay them. When new business becomes difficult in such times, new research from enterprise service management firm OTRS Group affirms that good customer service can not only ensure stable and good customer relationships, but also offer additional cross-selling and upselling business.
The firm’s newly released OTRS Spotlight surveyed 500 international customer service leaders in Germany, the US, Brazil, Mexico and Singapore on various aspects of customer service. The first installment of the three-part series shows how important customer service is for customer loyalty and satisfaction, and how important it is to work together with other departments in the company.
Customer service is essential for customer retention and satisfaction
This was confirmed in the survey, where participants were asked to rate the importance of customer service as it relates to customer retention on a scale of 1 (no role) to 5 (important role). An overwhelming majority of 95 percent of respondents gave customer service 5 (65 percent) or 4 points (30.2 percent), thus assigning it the highest importance. On the importance of customer service as pertains to customer engagement, the survey values are only slightly lower at just under 90 percent: It receives 5 points from 50.8 percent of respondents and 4 points from 39 percent of participants.
Freedom to act makes customer support strong
To be able to support customers effectively, you need a customer service team that can not only offer solutions, but ideally implement these directly. Three-quarters of the companies therefore give their customer service teams the opportunity to take action with discounts, deadline extensions, account credit notes, etc.: 40.4 percent of respondents, for example, can make almost any change without additional internal approvals, and 35.2 percent of them can make specifically defined changes to the customer account. Customer service is thus strengthened by autonomy and freedom of decision.
Cross-departmental cooperation leads to greater customer satisfaction
Even if customer service is of great importance to the quality of the customer relationship, it also needs—especially for successful cross- and up-selling business—good cooperation with other departments in the company: 92 percent of the respondents expect the service team to draw the customer’s attention to additional products or services during their contact. Thus, among the survey participants, customer service is perceived to have a high level of shared responsibility and with other company departments, particularly for customer satisfaction at 42.2 percent and customer loyalty at 28.8 percent; this figure is significantly lower for customer churn at 13.2 percent.
Success factors: management support and automated processes
But what helps companies improve collaboration and communication between customer service and other departments? Clear management support for cross-functional work on the customer experience (20.4 percent), automation of internal processes (24.2 percent) and, above all, the creation of a direct communication channel from customer service to the company’s product and service experts (27.6 percent) are cited for this purpose.
“The first OTRS Spotlight on Customer Service shows, on the one hand, the central role of customer service for customer satisfaction and for cross- and upselling opportunities,” said Andreas Bender, VP Consulting at OTRS AG, summarizing the results of the international survey in a news release. “But it also shows how good collaboration with other departments strengthens customer service teams. Automating such cross-functional processes with solutions like OTRS provides supports on a technical level to all involved teams as they collaborate for good customer retention as well as cross- and up-selling projects. Clear support from leadership and management remains essential for this.”