All and all, you provide a pretty good customer service experience: most emails are returned within a few days and callers never hold more than about 20 minutes.

You know that they all know you’re going to get back to them, it’s just a matter of time. Despite this level of dedication, somehow your customers still seem pretty unhappy.

Turning Those Frowns Upside Down

A new report by The Northridge Group may have the insights you need. The group found that, overwhelmingly, businesses overestimate how good their customer service (CX) really is. The combined study put customer experience head to head with business leaders’ opinions on CX channels like telephone and social media. What they found was that there’s a serious disconnect between what customers want and what business leaders feel is effective.

Some of the telling findings included:

Less than 50 percent of consumers find any channel easy to use. From a list including phone, online chat, web, social media, text and mobile apps, consumers couldn’t find their groove with the customer service that’s being given. Even the telephone, a tried and true customer experience vehicle, was only easy to use for 48 percent of the population.

Customers have terrible telephone experiences. The customers surveyed were frustrated with difficult to navigate Interactive Voice Response systems, as well as with the scripted responses by agents. And when they really needed to call, many consumers say there wasn’t an agent available for them.

Callers priorities don’t necessarily match business expectations. Although customers said their highest priority was reducing wait times (60 percent of those surveyed), businesses felt that their number one investment priority was personalization (52 percent). You might think you know your customer, but it could be time to reexamine those KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

Improving Your Customer Service Experience

The people have spoken, are you listening?

It doesn’t always take a lot to make customers happy, as it turns out. They really just want to be heard, and quickly, without a lot of hassle. Although there are novel ways of doing this that are worth exploring, the old standards can work, too.

If your in-house phones are overwhelmed, hire an answering service for overflow answering. These professional telephone operators can also give your company 24/7 availability, which happened to be ranked third among customer wants in the survey.

These are a few more ways to make that reliable customer CX channel, the telephone, more user-friendly:

Improve telephone menus. If you must have telephone menus, make them easy to understand. It could help to draw them out on paper like a flowchart. This way you can visualize the flow and ensure that customers don’t have to press very many buttons to get where they’re going.

Reduce wait times. Get some help. No one likes to wait and wait for assistance. They have busy lives, just like the people in your business. Invest in an answering service partnership or hire more operators so that customers can get answers quickly.

Provide better training. Training makes all the difference when it comes to call handling and neutralizing negative callers. Good training also helps those operators work faster, since they will already know where to go for the answers that customers have.

When you’re trying to improve your customer service experience, the first step should always be giving it a whirl yourself, if you can. Getting directly on the level of your customers is a great way to find the pain points they experience and smooth them down until they’re fine as silk. You’ll retain more customers and earn more new ones with your refined CX.