Getting Customer Service Right
Do Yo Have Happy Customers?
Customer service is a subject that I am very passionate about. It is something that was installed in me at a very young age. Born out of the great feeling of well-being that comes from the sense of feeling valued and appreciated. Being made to feel like an individual and not just a number is very important to me.
I started my career in customer-facing roles back in 1987 long before the onset of the digital era. Now I’m not setting out stall here, to blame the digital era for a lot of the failing that I see in customer service nowadays.
In fact being able to serve customers instantly is a plus point. The ability to reach out to customers through social media such as twitter facebook is definitely the future of customer communication. Neither is my motivation for this article to have a pop at specific organisations. In fact aside from any generic examples, you will find no finger pointing here.
However, I do feel that today’s fast-paced approach to pretty much everything, has contributed to some customer service failings. That if not addressed could lead to a future that does not see customer service as a priority instead more something that is only paid lip service.
I’ve worked my way up from telesales, to field sales, to account management and consultancy and beyond. During this time, I have never had a complaint. A bold statement but true, now I am not saying that an organisation won’t get complaints.
It is true you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but that does not mean you should stop trying. I’ve been lucky enough to work in one to one situations with all my clients. Consultancy by nature is not a bulk service so I am able to retain greater control of the customer service process, than large corporate organisations.
I believe that not all but a large number of organisations nowadays have forgotten the basics of customer service, ask yourself how often recently have you been frustrated after the realisation that your broadband company is offering new customers deals you can’t get, it’s the same for a lot of insurance companies, even web hosting companies are at it.
Why? Because they are focusing on the new customer trend, almost expecting their customers coming to the end of their contract to jump ship to another provider, it’s almost become a culture, maybe they want it this way.
Personally I find this extremely frustrating, in fact, it makes me angry and is just not fair. Customer service, in my opinion, is something that if done right from outset benefits all parties involved. Let’s think about this if you get things right from the beginning by providing “best in class” customer service, born out of great communication and interaction ensuring you’re customers are satisfied. There is no doubt you will reap the rewards.
I recently received the following testimonial :
“Jason has not been in my experience, a hard sell person, and he takes a personal interest in doing what is best for his clients. I would recommend his services, especially for those people who want a genuine person who has their interests at heart and may be reticent about undertaking a Wills procedure“
This kind of feedback is extremely valuable, firstly it’s a firm indication, that you are getting it right. It has also added value because most customers that take the time to provide you with a testimonial. Will be more than happy for you to publish it, thus letting potential new customers know you are good at what you do.
To get customer service right and work out where you’re going wrong. You need to get back to basics and work from there on. Let’s take a step back to a point in time when I first started out, this was a simpler time. A time when there wasn’t the level of automation of customer service processes available.
There were no mobile phones or tablet’s, there were no social media. At best you had a telephone, fax and pen and paper. Now don’t get me wrong, technology is a great thing, the internet and the instant results it can bring to both customers and service providers is here to stay. After all, we live in a want it now society, that’s just evolution, you can’t fight it.
Big or small, you should set out from the very beginning, to try and reduce potential reputation, damaging complaints. By putting customer service first, You may have targets and pressures of you’re own. But this is not the customer’s problem. The first step is to analyse your sales process and the points at which customer service needs to be focused on within your customer sales cycle.
So How do You get customer service Right
Firstly and most importantly you have to care if you don’t care about customer service. You won’t focus on it for the long term. If you care about your customers, the process of looking after them will come more naturally. You will always find a way to achieve your goal of customer satisfaction.
You must at all times focus on customer communication. Ensuring that you keep customers posted on the process, so it matches their original expectations. One great thing technology has brought us is the ability to set up customer service workflows. These are a great tool but use and monitor the results carefully and test them regularly to iron out any issues.
Yes, sometimes things don’t go to plan if this is the case call your customer. Explain what has happened and how you will be rectifying it. Believe me, most of them will understand and thank you for keeping them posted as opposed to keeping them in the dark.
Try and always see things from your customers point of view. Imagine yourself in their position and always treat customers as you would expect to be treated should the roles be reversed. Customer service is plain common sense when you think about it.
Customers are human beings not numbers on a spreadsheet. You have to gain their respect, once you have it you will reap the rewards.
The Rewards Are Waiting For You
Get customer service right and the rewards are waiting for you. You will gain higher levels of customer retention leading to repeat business from satisfied customers. It often amazes me as to the amount of time and effort organisations will put into getting new customers on board only to forget them.
Satisfied customers not only provide greater retention, and repeat business. They also bring referrals, new customers that you have not had to spend money in marketing efforts to get. New customers that come to you with a greater level of trust because they have been recommended. Effectively by making your customer’s life easy, you will, in turn, make your own the same.
Credit Where Credit’s Due
There are organisations out there that are very much focusing on customer service and getting it right, these organisations should be applauded for sticking to the basic principles of customer service, it’s great to see the independent, professional membership body for customer service The Institute Of Customer Services acknowledging and rewarding these organisations, recently 13 of the UK’s leading businesses were celebrated for their achievements in customer service at the Institute’s third annual UK Customer Satisfaction Awards. see here for details on the winners 2013 UK Customer satisfaction Awards. Well done to them for caring enough to get it right.