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Customer Service Can’t Win the Loyalty Game on Defense Alone

By Allegra Ubbes | July 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

Of all the things I’m missing right now, I think I miss sports the most. From the age of three, sports have played a huge role in my life, and my favorite sport has always been soccer.

When we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, I play on a team in Chicago as a left midfielder or forward, both offensive-minded positions.  For those who don’t know, soccer has players dedicated to offense and goal scoring, and defenders who try to prevent the other team from scoring.

The most renown soccer players in history are often the goal scorers, and you don’t hear much about defenders.  One of the defensive positions that you rarely hear about is the central defensive midfielder. The central defensive midfielder (CDM) is positioned in the middle of their team on the field and mostly focuses on defense, but occasionally will score a goal when the right opportunity presents itself, which sometimes can give a team the edge needed to win a championship title.  One example of a successful CDM is N’Golo Kanté, who achieved stardom when he played for Leicester City in the English Premier league during their 2015-2016 championship season, and helped Leicester City win the Premier League title with 5000 to 1 odds.

N’Golo Kanté shines as a defensive central midfielder and plays a crucial role in transitioning the ball from defense to offense.  Throughout the 2015-16 season Kanté was described as the “engine room” of Leicester’s compact and defensive style of playing. If we imagine our company as a soccer team, the Sales and Marketing functions would play offense, like Leicester’s Jamie Vardy, focusing almost exclusively on generating revenue (scoring goals). Customer Service, on the other hand, would be N’Golo Kanté. Now, you might think that customer service should be a pure defender and not someone who dips their toe in offensive strategies, and until very recently, our research would support this belief, focusing service leaders on mitigating disloyalty by providing low effort service experiences to customers.

Our most recent study, though, has uncovered a way for service leaders to also drive loyalty returns.

Gartner analysis of 6,000 customers shows that customer service has the opportunity to improve customer loyalty outcomes by creating “Value Enhancement”. Successful Value Enhancement delivery has a significant positive impact on the probability a customer will stay with the company following a service interaction. If a customer agrees or strongly agrees on the two statements below, that customer is 82% more likely to stay with the company during a “stay/go” decision:

  • After the customer service interaction, I am able to achieve more with the product/service.
  • After the customer service interaction, my confidence in my decision to purchase the product/service is higher.

This new strategy, which we call “Resolution plus Value Enhancement”, means that service leaders should deliver low effort resolution of the customer’s original issue first (playing defense), then leverage value enhancement activities in situations where it makes sense (score goals). Kanté’s ability to play defensively first, and then “seize the moment” to counterattack and score shows exactly how Value Enhancement should be applied. How often do your reps have opportunities to “score goals”? Our data shows value enhancement can occur in 35-50% of all service interactions.

Customer Service organizations can now do more than play defense, and Value Enhancement gives us a chance to score some well-timed goals and help our company “win the customer loyalty championship”.

For more information on our new research, Driving Customer Loyalty and Retention Through Service, schedule an interaction with a Gartner representative today.


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