How Can Broken Business Processes Damage Customer Retention?

Organizations are rightfully focused on best practices within the contact center to ensure they provide a positive customer experience and enhance customer loyalty. We quality monitor, we survey, and we coach. Unfortunately, while we rigorously work to connect customers to a knowledgeable and friendly contact center agent, we sometimes forget to ensure that the customer’s product order or service is actually being handled properly. If you think about it, one of the guaranteed ways to lose a customer is to botch their order, or deliver a service incorrectly, and not be able to rectify the problem in a timely manner. If we only address the contact center in our improvement efforts, we still deliver a poor customer experience.

Here’s a personal example. My husband and I recently purchased a patio furniture set from a major retailer. The online order predicted a delivery date, but the delivery date came and went and no furniture arrived. A lot of time was spent trying to figure out how to contact the appropriate people to determine its whereabouts. The contact center had no visibility into where the furniture really was and why it hadn’t been delivered yet. “Try the warehouse,” they suggested, only they had no means of locating it either. Even though the furniture finally showed up and is of high quality, we became extremely frustrated and most likely won’t order additional products from this retailer.

What is the typical cause of this type of problem? Bad or “broken” business processes. Orders are lost, or inaccurately fulfilled, deliveries or service people are not tracked properly and don’t arrive at the date and time specified. Or customers receive the wrong product and have to spend considerable time trying to sort out what went wrong. What impact can this syndrome have on an organization, and why should you worry about business process improvement?

In The Value of Online Customer Loyalty and How You Can Capture It, Bain & Company state, “The company that over-invests in marketing or advertising at the expense of fulfillment and basic site functionality may succeed in drawing customers to its site, only to lose them forever.” I’ll add that online retailers aren’t the only ones who suffer from fulfillment challenges and frustrated customers.

Research shows that customer retention can have a powerful impact on a company’s bottom line, as noted in Leading on the Edge of Chaos by Emmet C. Murphy and Mark A. Murphy, when they describe a 2% increase in customer retention as having the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%. Imagine being able to deliver that magnitude of improvement without the pain that typically accompanies a broad effort to cut costs. As your accuracy and responsiveness grow, and you improve the overall customer experience, you should see a corresponding growth in your bottom line.

In my next post I’ll discuss ways that business process automation can assist you to better ensure quality delivery to your customers. If you’d like to do a little additional reading before then, download the whitepaper, The Exceptional Customer Experience, co-written by consultant Diane Halliwell, director of contact center solutions at Align, LLC, and Gina Clarkin, product manager, Interactive Intelligence, Inc.

Thanks for reading,

Rachel Wentink