07 June 2014

Invest in customer service for a rainy day

Invest in customer service for a rainy day

Sometimes, the trading environment for your company deteriorates considerably. This might be due to factors beyond your control such as interruption of public services, supplier failure, natural catastrophe or other unforeseen circumstances. When this happens, customer and employee loyalty becomes a major determinant of a company's survival. Will they continue working with the company through thick or thin or is this just the last straw which will convince them to bail out.

Promises made in these times of hardship will have  little influence on customer and staff behaviour unless past experience has shown that the company cares deeply about its staff and customers. An excellent level of customer service can be just the way to demonstrate it. Customers will be pleased and their loyalty will increase purchase after purchase, reaching a point where they will be prepared to provide support to the company in return when it it experiences a rainy day. 

Similarly, for employees, delivering great customer service makes them proud of their jobs, proud of their achievements and grateful to the company which provides the platform for success. Once again if the circumstances warrant it, these employees will be prepared to go beyond the call of duty and help the company work its way out of trouble.

19 May 2014

Customer service teamwork

Customer service teamwork

The human factor plays a key role in the delivery of excellent customer service and everyone recognises that having a well motivated and trained customer service employee will make a massive difference when interacting with customers and racing against the competition. 

Companies should not ignore that they could make the boat go even faster with a stronger emphasis on teamwork. The management of customers handovers over time and over different channels could be improved so that the best customer service is offered and appears seamless even when dealing with different employees. 

Technology plays a big part in capturing all the information in one place but it is also critical that employees support each other actions without seeding the doubt in the customer mind that maybe the prior handling of their case was not deal with in the best way. Of course any wrongdoing must be put right but it is also critical that everyone pulls in the same direction and until the ultimate goal has been reached, unequivocal commitment from all is required.

28 March 2014

Customer experience vs customer service

Customer experience vs customer service: a war of words?

The debate rages on between supporters of customer experience and fans of customer service. The former argue that customer experience is holistic, it covers the whole range of interactions between the company and its customers, pre-sale, during the sale itself and post-sale. In their vision, they reduce customer service to processes put in place when clients need problems fixed or when they wish to notify the company of their new address. 
Customer service advocates on the other hand argue that customer service is an all-encompassing concept which was always aimed at capturing the whole customer lifecycle. Experience terminology has just been created as a new buzzword to create consultancy opportunities and encourage companies to spend money on the search for the elusive best customer service. 
Who is right and who is wrong? Is there an unwritten rule that when it all goes well and the customer is happy one can speak about good experience whilst if there are issues it is bad service?

Use of words customer experience and customer service in modern literature

Use of words in literature since the beginning of the 20th Century sends us a couple of strong messages which might help solve this question. Looking at the graph above, one is struck by the fact that the concept of "customer service" is very new. Merely 80 years old, so what was happening before? was the service inexistent or were people simply helpful and friendly as opposed to providers of great service.

The other key message here is that since the apparition of the customer experience terminology the use of customer service has declined, suggesting a substitution process between the two. The conclusion is easy to reach, forget the terminology, just ensure a good happening for your customers.

29 January 2014

Go beyond omnichannel customer service

After a long period of decline, the use of the word 'omni' in English literature seems to be on the up. The same can be said in the field of customer service where omnichannel has become the buzz word, with the intention to offer a seamless service across an organisation. But why restrict yourself to omnichannel. Ideally, organisation need to adopt an omnicorporeal approach to customer service, ensuring that an omnifarious desire to satisfy customers is omnipresent. This is only achievable if companies employ omnicompetent staff able to solve omnigenous queries. Once the basics are in place, management can omnify the philosophy throughout its operations which should ensure that customers are provided with an omnibus service. Finally gathering of the customer service omniana will be critical to the feedback loop and the more forward looking organisations might consider employing omnivore staff who have the appetite for handling the most complex situations.

15 January 2014

Service without restrictions

For customers, the notion of best service might only become real when all restrictions surrounding classic service delivery have been removed. No opening hours, endless availability of products in all shapes, colours and sizes, no queues, free parking available at all times, no reservations needed, 24/7 delivery hours, ability to change bookings at short notice, immediate repesponse time via social media, no quibble returns policy...the list is long. 
The cost issue is a major hurdle standing between customers and the best service utopia but nevertheless, companies are trying to deliver elements of this vision via an increased use of technology [whilst at the same time reducing some of their costs]. 
The unstopabble growth of self-service is eliminating many constraints but making customers work hard to obtain the service they feel they deserve. Why don't companies contribute their part by having a systematic look at what other service restrictions exist within their organisations and see if these could be lifted.

12 December 2013

Best customer service


Best customer service formula

The recipe for best customer service has never been published yet many organisations claim to know the secret formula. By performing a key word density analysis on a number of relevant pages we have come up with the secret formula from the customer point of view:

29% - deliver a result: give the customer what he wants and that will be a key driver of satisfaction
25% - being helpful: all about attitude and clearly trying to help the customer resolve their queries
11% - speed: giving a solution quickly is appreciated by customers
10% - listening: listening to the customer is a mark of respect and will help understand his/her "case"
7% - learning: customers want companies to learn from previous situations so bad stuff does not happen again
4% - experienced and skilled staff: clients want to deal with competent staff
3% - social media presence: for some customers, social media will help deliver the best customer service
3% - excellence: quality of service has a role to play in the overall customer service process
3% - marketing: the promise of good customer service actually contributes. It shows the company commitment to deliver the very best customer service
2% - rules: some rules help sometimes - consumer rights, warranties, service levels, compensation?
2% - privacy: important to keep customers matters confidential
2% - care: empathy, and care can matter enormously in some situations

What do you think? Is this the right formula for best customer service?
Please let us have your opinion by taking part in the best service poll in the right side-bar. Thank you









12 November 2013

Customer service culture

customer service culture

Customer service culture

Establishing the right customer service culture is a vital part of any customer service policy and a pre-requisite for delivering the best service possible. Companies want to make sure that their employees behaviours are conditioned by a set of values and beliefs which will protect the interests of all customers during their sales, marketing and servicing efforts. Internal communication programmes are put in place and incentives scheme designed to make sure that the customer service culture permeates everything that the company does. One factor is often missed though as it is also important to adjust the service delivery to regions and countries in which the company operates. Trying to deploy the home culture in overseas market might be perceived to be charming and original for a while but is rarely sustainable. Similarly, using overseas servicing centres for the home market is often prone to cultural challenges. So when next discussing customer service culture, don't forget to include the culture of your customers as a key parameter.

09 October 2013

Customer service week 2013

It is customer service week 7-13 October 2013. Time to celebrate.
Surely this week is an opportunity to communicate to your employees and customers and ask then to join in a celebration of customer service. Only a few days to go so if you have not planned ahead here are a few ideas of things you could do. Please make sure that you take part in this 2013 customer service week, more and more of your customers are expecting you to. If you are already well ahead, please do not hesitate to add your suggestion so that the list can be even more comprehensive for next year.


Agenda
  • Chairman back on the shop floor - @Centrom @AskaHomes
  • Call for nomination of members of staff who go the extra mile - @GreaterAnglia
  • Free Breakfast and afternoon tea for clients (Avanta Offices) @AvantaOffices
  • Asking students for their feedback on the university - @LeedsMet
  • Call for supporting the entry to a customer service award @NikonatGrays
  • Members of staff tweeting about their work @BrightonHoveCC
  • Free breakfast goodies (Stagecoach bus) @StagecoachEScot
  • Looking for their customer service champion (@The_MMO)
  • Manager serving on Front Desk (@TimeTideMuseum)
  • NVQ certificate presentation to staff members - @DuploUK
  • Bitesize Gober Sessions for staff and Partners (@YourGuinness)
  • "If you were an animal?" (reverse) game/survey/prize draw (Sureflap) @sureflapnews
  • A selection of passenger focused activities - @EMTrains
  • Surprise gifts for customers who visit shops - @Airtel_life
  • Team activity day with treasure hunt (@Moathomes)
  • CEO joining in for charity (@HawksfordGroup)
  • All members of staff involved in doing a customer service survey by telephone - @DuploUK
  • Customer service team partaking in a community impact day - @Moathomes
  • Speaking engagement at customer service week event - @RFClimited
  • Staff job swaps (Stagecoach Bus)
  • Collecting smiles via Instagram - @nationalexpress
  • Appreciation - meet the customer service employees - @SmartSign
  • Asking travellers what song they would like being played on trains (@SouthernRailUK)
  • Visit by local MP to hear advisers in action - @hellosanctuary
And many more....

If you have other customer service celebration ideas, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below and don't forget to capture customers' ideas for customer service week next year...

20 September 2013

Treat your customers like Royalty

Treat your customers like Royalty

Should you treat all your customers like Royalty? We have written previously about whether to offer a standard customer service to all or tailor it to individual customers or group of customers. The debate rages on as tailored customer service will obviously be much more expensive to deliver. There is even an argument that tailoring is not actually required. Most customers need similar things, it is just a matter of anticipating all the possible needs well and standardise the service to accomodate them. Irrespective of the choice made, there is one constant theme, customers should all be treated like royalty, whether they are important in terms of money spend with your company or not. Indeed, the so-called small customers might have rapidly increasing orders or may know a huge number of large customers and become a major referal source for your business.

03 September 2013

Customer service: could your reputation go up in smoke?

customer service smoke signal

Customer service reputation

One critical aspect of good customer service management is to be well aware of all the smoke signals sent by customer though all available channels including social media. If they are carefully monitored, captured and acted upon they can help create a positive feedback loop initiated by customers for the long term benefit of the company. A thorough handling of complaints for example is an easy to achieve step which could led you a long way towards achieving great results. On the other hand, if a company ignores them or thinks that all the customer feedback is unfair or inaccurate, it runs the risk of seeing a gradual deterioration of its trade and see its reputation go up in smoke.