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New research rips apart a customer service tradition

by Scott Wallask

June 23, 2010

By Scott Wallask, Insider Learning Network

SAP CRM professionals should take a look at an article in July-August 2010 Harvard Business Review, which in brief suggests that quickly attending to a customer’s inquiry, rather than showering a customer with ice cream and roses, may curb consumer frustration.

Wait a minute … you don’t have to go above and beyond for a customer? Talk about knocking down the Berlin Wall.

Customer loyalty “has a lot more to do with how well companies deliver on their basic, even plain-vanilla promises than on how dazzling the service experience might be,” the article states. “Yet most companies have failed to realize this and pay dearly in terms of wasted investments and lost customers.”

The Customer Contact Council, a division of the Corporate Executive Board, studied more than 75,000 people who had made customer service inquiries by phone or web. Members of the board authored the Harvard Business Review article, which is available for download here. You can read a shorter abstract on this page.

What’s the No. 1 cause behind customers exerting unnecessary effort? The need to call back a second time because an issue wasn’t resolved on the first call, according to the article.

If companies can curb those follow-up calls by gnawing at the root of problems during an initial contact, customers are likely to stay happier, researchers write.

Follow Scott on Twitter @sapcrm_observer.

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