How to Turn Rage into a Great Customer Experience

A recent study from Customer Care Measurement & Consulting found that consumers are no more satisfied today with customer service than they were in 1976. Most companies believe that delivering an amazing customer experience is about building an ongoing relationship with the customer so they have a positive memory of the collective engagements that they have had over time. This is no longer the case.

According to the Peak-End Rule, customers judge experiences based on what happened during their last customer service experiences at the peak, of delight or pain, and how the service ended. The higher the peak and the more positive the ending, the happier the customer.

The same Customer Care Measurement & Consulting study found that 66 percent of customers who had problems with products or services reported experiencing rage, and only 17 percent of those customers were satisfied with the action taken to resolve their most serious problems. These customers were frustrated that customer service agents were not listening to them, ping-ponged them back and forth between many people and departments, and did not resolve their issues. In most of these cases, if that rage (the peak) was followed by an agent successfully solving the issue (the end), the company could have turned a negative situation into a positive customer outcome.

And I've heard related questions from customers: "Why is it that my customers who have engaged with our service agents AND end up getting their issues solved provide higher customer satisfaction scores than those who have never engaged with us at all?"

Customer Care Measurement & Consulting found that companies risk more than $200 trillion in revenue from poor complaint handling, and that they should be investing more to get this right. Add in the challenge of subscription-based business models, everything-as-a-service, and always-on engagement with customers, and things become complex. But it is possible with modern customer service technology.

Here are three ways you can turn rage into a great customer experience:

Be proactive.

Deliver a positive end experience by addressing issues before customer contact. Monitor the health of customers' products and services and act on trend data to better anticipate needs and potential problems. Inevitably, issues will come up, and when they do, customer service teams can let those not-yet-affected customers know of the situation and how you've solved the problem or are planning to solve the problem. Imagine their surprise! There might be no better way to improve customer satisfaction or avoid a rage-filled situation with customers.

Connect and fix.

Eliminate ping-ponging by connecting customer service to other departments to resolve issues. Ultimately, customer service is the responsibility of the whole organization. Fixing the root cause of an issue for good provides the ultimate positive ending for customers.

Make service effortless.

Most customers prefer self-service these days. Provide flexible and easy ways for customers to find the information they need in knowledge bases or communities and provide personalized experiences where they can see their cases, service notices, or product/service status. With automation, machine learning, and virtual agents, cases, workflows, and routine inquiries can be simplified. Customers can get help easily when they want and agents can have more time to assist customers with advice, best practices, or to solve the more challenging issues.

By applying modern technology that goes beyond typical CRM systems and applying the Peak-End Rule, companies can eliminate rage or turn every customer experience into a positive one. Providing proactive service, making it easy for customers to engage with you, and integrating customer service with other departments and processes ensures a seamless, closed loop experience for customers.

Holly Simmons is senior director of global product marketing and customer service management at ServiceNow.