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The best customer service is a mix

News, 11 December 2014

NEW YORK: With customer service being identified as an important means of retaining loyalty, marketers should consider extending ideas of customer personas into their own service departments.

Aspect, a supplier of customer engagement solutions, surveyed 627 customer-service decision-makers at senior management level, and conducted qualitative research with a further 17 executives to establish five distinct customer service personas.

These included "The Traditionalist", or someone who is not a big fan of technology and rejects self-service tools in favour of a more personal approach. Just 5% of companies represented by this view strongly agreed that they put more effort into marketing to new customers than they do caring for existing ones.

"The Honcho" is all about management: every member of this group reported that leadership was involved in customer service strategy. But while this persona claims to value the use of technology, they are in fact least likely to use it.

At the other extreme is "The Selfie", who has adopted technology and believe they use it well, although customers might suggest otherwise. That level of self-confidence means most do not expect their company's customer service measures to change much in the medium term.

"The Casualist" lacks just about everything – technology, leadership, metrics and respect for those doing the frontline job. And many people will have experienced "The Stickler", who is big on rules and procedures but does not actually appreciate the customers themselves.

"While there's something to be said for the Traditionalist's dedication to customer care, in their quest to build long lasting relationships through person-to-person interactions, they miss the mark in understanding how technology can help them better serve their customers," Joe Gagnon, svp/general manager Cloud Solutions at Aspect, told Forbes.

Not only were the missing out on efficiencies, they were also in danger of alienating the increasingly important customer segment of millennials.

"The new definition of exceptional customer service is the perfect mix of agent and technology with a healthy dose of self-service," he added.

Data sourced from Aspect, Forbes; additional content by Warc staff