Customer responsiveness delivers an excellent customer experience. As a Peppers & Rogers Group survey reported, 81 percent of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competition. An effective customer response strategy enables a company to deliver the highest standards of customer care at a time when the customer most needs it. That level of care makes an important contribution to customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.


A customer response strategy sets out procedures and quality standards for handling customer incidents and inquiries, and identifies the essential infrastructure and skills. The strategy meets a wide range of objectives. It must provide the highest levels of customer support during an incident and minimize inconvenience for the customer. It must ensure that incidents are resolved promptly within agreed timescales and provide customers with quality response and support throughout an incident. It should also ensure that support resources are deployed effectively to maximize customer satisfaction.


Customers can contact a company by telephone, email, fax or web channels. They may want to make an inquiry, order a product, place a service request, report an incident, query an invoice or make a complaint. This means customers could be contacting many different departments and individuals. Putting a single response strategy in place across the company ensures a consistent customer experience every time. Peppers & Rogers Group reported that 26 percent of survey respondents rated themselves as good or excellent in creating a complete and integrated view of each customer across multiple products and channels.


An effective customer response strategy has two main elements -- the infrastructure to deliver the service and the personal skills to provide the right level of customer care. The infrastructure might include communications tools to provide a rapid response to customer queries and put the service into operation, a trained support team to deliver customer service and a control center to coordinate customer response.


A support team's skills requirements includes incident management skills to deal with customers who may be in stressful situations and project management skills to coordinate and implement a response. Customer-facing staff also need technical skills to deliver the service and communications needed to coordinate the elements of the response. Peppers & Rogers Group reported that 76 percent of survey respondents motivated employees to treat customers fairly; 62 percent provided the right tools and training to earn customers' trust.


Customers who know that their problems are taken care of are fully satisfied and will be happy to deal with the same company in the future. According to a Strativity Group survey, 51 percent of companies that are investing at least 10 percent in customer experience efforts are reaping referral rates of 10 percent or more.