Prices are up across the globe. In cases where customers are paying the same as they did before, they’re usually receiving less in return. And it’s the service businesses provide that has faced the steepest drop-off in quality. Welcome to skimpflation.
Skimpflation can be summarized as; prices stay the same, quality decreases. To compensate for the difficult climate (rising costs of everything, including enticing new hires), businesses are cutting back on service quality. They’re trying to retain their profitability with fewer resources.
Think about the number of reduced menus you’ve faced ordering takeout. And the seemingly endless time spent on hold trying to reach customer service. These issues are signs of businesses facing skimpflation, and in turn, potentially alienating customers.
Get serious about training and tech: If you want leading customer service, give those in the team the best of training and the technology they need to win.
Outsourcing can make the difference: Facing skimpflation symptoms? Turn to expert outsourcers; but remember to ask the right questions and demand excellence from your outsourcer.
Master the channels and prioritize empathy: Research your customers’ favorite channels to reach out to you and be there—with an empathetic ear.
Shout about your CX: Highlight the right metrics and be bold in your approach— where others are letting down prospects and customers, you’re stepping up to the plate.
Customer service roles have been affected as much as any other. After all, service roles typically see a much higher employee turnover than other industries in more typical economic situations; almost double at 45% per year in America, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Many businesses are focusing their cost-cutting efforts on reducing customer support staff—either intentionally or because they’re struggling to hire and retain workers. It’s much easier to have fewer people answering the phones and live chat in the customer service centers, than lessening the quality or availability of their core product. But it translates to longer hold times and greater friction between customers and customer service agents. Creating barriers to service for your customers comes with significant long-term risks to customer satisfaction and loyalty.
On the flipside, investing in or optimizing your CX in this pivotal moment can return the biggest gains. As other businesses face the current climate by slashing quality, it’s those who prioritize the customer experience—putting long-term strategy and loyalty above short-term resilience—that will come out on top.
Our four CX strategies can help you retain customers and attract those exasperated with what they’ve experienced elsewhere:
A great business views customer service as a cornerstone of their offering, not just the cost of doing business. No matter how great your product or app, you need world-class support.
Embed customer service staff in the wider industry, not just your business. Give them the right tools to problem-solve fast and efficiently. And give them a clear pathway to progress and make a true career out of their role. The happier and more valued your staff feel, the better service they’re likely to provide—boosting customer retention.
Outsourcing has gotten a bad rap, largely for those long hold times we mentioned earlier. Many executives facing staff shortages might be worried about losing control with outsourcing. Indeed, the wrong partner can cause real damage to your customer experience and your customer retention. Selecting carefully and demanding ongoing excellence is not a pipe dream. (Our insanely honest guide to outsourced CX can help.) Look for businesses that aren’t just experienced, but experienced in the nuances of your specific industry. Picking a good partner will mean better experiences for your customers while freeing up your stretched workforce to focus on strategy and growth.
The customer experience is now firmly multichannel. That can make the issue seem more complicated, but the payoffs? Huge. Whether internal or outsourced, research where and how your customers engage with you. Chat, voice, email, Instagram DMs for commerce—there’s a world of communication channels, but they all have to be supported well. And the reality is that many of your customers are still facing tough times, so a focus on empathy throughout will make customers remember your CX for all the right reasons.
Fortune favors the brave. So tell customers and prospects alike about your focus on providing them with an excellent experience. Highlight the right metrics, promote your CX experience through marketing, and engage current customers to share their stories of positive experiences. In a climate of diminishing CX returns, make sure your employees, customers, prospects, and wider industry know you’re the exception to the rule.