There are endless definitions of what “customer service” really means, and guidelines for what it involves. It might be time to consider the term as self-defining; perhaps customer service entails, quite simply, serving your customers.
Unfortunately, many businesses have a tendency to view their customer service processes from an inside perspective, placing emphasis on reducing costs rather than on providing quality service. If you take a moment to revisit your processes from your customers’ point of view, you might gain some insights about what dealing with your company is really like.
Is My Call Really Important To You?
Research and common sense both reveal that customers become frustrated when they call for service and are subjected to a recording that tells them every two minutes, “Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.”
Customers feel (rightly) that if their call was really important to the company, they would be talking to a live representative and getting their questions answered, rather than sitting glued to their phone for an indefinite period of time listening to Muzak.
The hold message, of course, is a less costly measure than hiring more representatives to handle the call volume with no wait time, but companies that approach customer service from a cost-control perspective are in danger of losing business, because they are not viewing their processes from the customer’s point of view. An effort must be made to understand where customers receive the most value when interacting with a company.
Most people would like to deal with a friendly and understanding representative as soon as possible, or failing that, at least an efficient touch-tone system that allows them to quickly access the correct information or get in touch with the right people. Anything less makes the customer feel undervalued.
Simply put, customers want their question answered or their problem solved, and they want to be able to quickly and easily contact someone or something that will accomplish that purpose. They have better things to do with their time than “continue to hold,” and may decide that since their call isn’t important enough for your company to handle efficiently, it’s a clear indication that you don’t value their business. The obvious solution is to take that business elsewhere.
The “Cost” of Customer Service
If customers don’t feel that their relationship has value to the company, they won’t value that relationship either. Companies that fail to meet customer service expectations are actually encouraging consumers to shop somewhere else. Do not place too little emphasis on the customer service experience; it is vitally important to retaining customers.
Hiring more customer service representatives, maintaining facilities for them, and ensuring that all customer-facing employees are properly trained to deliver top-notch service can be a costly proposition. However, executives should think of customer service as an investment rather than an expense.
Not only will quality service improve customer loyalty and result in more repeat business, the fact is that many people, even in a recession, are willing to spend more money with a company they enjoy shopping and interacting with. Better customer service actually attracts higher-paying customers, and those are the customers that will really help your business succeed.
Customer Service for Customers
Even in an economic climate where disposable income is down and more emphasis is being placed on keeping prices low, customers are still looking for a positive customer service experience. Analyze your current processes from their point of view. Determine where improvements need to be made to ensure that your customers remain your customers.
Improvements in customer service should always be made with the customer’s perspective in mind. If a customer enjoys interacting with your company and feels that their problems or questions are taken seriously, they are much more likely to return and do business with you again. Your investment in improving the customer service experience will pay off.
Reprinted Courtesy of Baker Communications