Customer service in a digital age is increasingly coming under scrutiny as the years pass. One of the key drivers behind this is because in the past, quality customer service was simply assumed and every business pretty much followed the same protocols. This isn’t so true today.
What Has Changed?
The pressures on modern business especially around cost control have drastically changed how customer service is carried out. It is commonplace for customer service to be often outsourced meaning the level of service varies considerably from company to company.
Customers have also changed what they consider to be quality customer service. Modern people lead very busy lives and are not normally willing to spend a great deal of time to fix a problem. The advent of new technology has trained customers in expecting fast solutions to their enquiries.Companies are often judged based on how fast they fix a problem and what little effort the customer has to exert to get the problem fixed. Think about using a search engine to find something you need.The more time and effort it takes, the lower is the customer’s opinion of the company.
What Hasn’t Changed?
What hasn’t changed are the fundamental principles of quality service. These can be simpilifed into three moments of truth:
Quality of Product or Service
The quality of the product that you deliver or the service that you render is the very first point at which the customer will judge your company. Unfortunately, the quality of products and services has been allowed to slip in many different business areas. This is partially due to rising costs and an attempt to compensate for those costs by lowering the quality delivered to the customer. It’s like a restaurant saving money on meat by making the diameter of a hamburger a few millimeters smaller or making the meat patty thinner. The customer probably won’t notice but it becomes a slippery slope. If the customer doesn’t notice and sales don’t go down, the restaurant can try making the meat patty even smaller. The problem with this and every other cost saving measure with regard to product or service is that, sooner or later, the customer will notice. Ultimately, the better quality product or service will win,providing the price differential is not too great.
What is positive interaction? In simple terms, it is providing the customer with a coherent response. Have you ever called a company customer service department and been transferred from one customer service representative to another, only to discover that you must re-explain everything all over again to the next representative? That’s an incoherent response. It shows, at the very least, that someone dropped the ball and at worst that the communication lines within that business are broken.
Another form of incoherent response is called the Policy Press. This is where a company has a particular policy regarding customers and tries to force every customer to fit that policy, no matter how inconvenient it might be. In this case, the company is telling the customer that its policies are more important than the customer’s problems. This is a sure fire way to lose customers.
It’s amazing how many customer service disasters can be averted simply by employees who listen politely to what the customer has to say and respond honestly to the customer’s problems. Never allow a customer to get lost in the bureaucracy.
While the style of customer service has changed. What constitutes quality service has not.