Following the release of Interactive Intelligence’s findings from their Customer Experience Research Study, a disparity between what customers want and what companies think they want has been made apparent.

The recent shift away from traditional marketing towards customer service as marketing should mean that companies are concentrating their efforts on providing the best customer experience possible.

According to Interactive Intelligence’s findings, however, many companies offer customers the opportunity to pay more for a better service. This approach to customer service is not in line with the idea that customers are loyal to companies that treat them well and that they should be treated well because they are customers. Rather, it prioritises some customers over others.

Whereas 53% of companies allow customers to pay a fee for higher levels of service, 77% of customers say they would not pay for a higher level of care if the option was offered.

Interestingly, when asked whether the option to pay for better customer service would be beneficial to either themselves or their customers, 63% of companies said it would benefit neither. 9% of companies said that offering the option to pay would benefit only their organisation.

Does your organisation allow your customers to pay a fee for a higher level of service? Do you think allowing customers to pay a fee for a higher level of customer service is a beneficial option for your organisation and/or your customers?

Elitist customer service?

Is this first-class treatment the same concept as paying more to travel first class on an airline, or is it an expression of elitism? It certainly makes customer service explicitly about making money, rather than about improving the experience for the customer.

There is also the question of value. Are customers paying just to jump to the head of the queue whenever they ring up customer service with a question? If when they get there they are greeted by the same staff as the customers who have not paid, then the question becomes is this worth it?

If the staff they are paying to talk to more quickly are not adequately trained, then these paying customers are still not receiving a better experience despite their purchase.

Why are we talking about paying for better service?

Companies who charge for a higher level of service need to be able to deliver on that promise to customers. The fact is that 77% of customers say that they would not be prepared to pay for better service.

When 9% of businesses conceded that the provision of paid-for customer service would not benefit the customer, only their company, you wonder if customers are already wary that they won’t get their money’s worth. When asking customers to pay more for service, you have to make the benefits and rewards clear.

The aims of business should always be to provide your customers with the best care possible. This fosters a culture of customer loyalty from all your customers, not just the ones paying heavy premiums.

 

 

Ross Barnes-Moore