What Ever Happened to Customer Service?
By Paula Scales
Lots of people tell us that they get frustrated with what is called customer service today…
It seems logical that customer service is a vitally-important element of running a business, and is something in which a business or organization should take pride; it should be an integral part of day-to-day business operations, and should be talked about frequently by management and staff. Certainly it is frequently talked about by customers!
Ideally, staff should be trained in preferred protocols – preferably those based on customer feedback – and should be provided with the correct information and tools to efficiently and effectively help customers.
In addition, we’ve found the best customer service to be interactive, as opposed to today’s disturbing trend toward automation such as self-check out at the grocery store, drive-thru ATM at the bank and, the least favorite, automated phone systems! It’s important to remember that, when it comes down to it, people are our business. Companies don’t help people, people help people. The focus needs to put on the individual customer.
Here are 4 Customer Service practices you might consider:
- Live contact. During regular business hours a live person sits at the front desk to greet guests and someone always picks up the phone to greet each person calling. 92% of all interactions happen via phone (Gartner) so if you can engage callers right from the start, you have taken one big step toward effective customer service. Many companies opt for automated phone systems, with which many of us get frustrated because we are bumped around from department to department, asked to supply information multiple times, and often directed to the wrong party. You might also consider that when a person answers the phone, greets people in a pleasant way and offers individualized help, it sets us apart from others. If the associated staffing cost exceeds budget, you might consider a call-forwarding set-up.
- Deal with matters immediately, even when it is not pleasant. This can define your customer service and, to an extent, your organization’s brand. Happy customers who get their issues resolved tell 4-6 people about their experience, but a dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience; nearly 13% will tell more than 20 people. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
- Treat others how you would like to treated. This includes your employees. 76% of companies motivate employees to treat customers fairly, and 62% provide effective tools and training to gain trust with their customers. (Peppers and Rogers Group 2009 Customer Experinces Maturity Monitor) You might also keep in mind that employees take their cue from management, and the team’s behavior and communication style can be a direct reflection on management.
And speaking of communication, studies show it is usually better to stop talking and listen carefully to customers before offering solutions or suggestions.
- Deliver on your word. 44% of people surveyed said information they received was not accurate (Harris). Reliability is one of the keys to any good long lasting relationship. 50% of people surveyed said their customer-service question was never even answered (Harris).
We sincerely hope you have been pleased with the customer service provided by our team here at Brookstone Builders, and welcome any feedback you might have – thanks!
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Have You Heard...?
Data from Bain & Company indicates it costs 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.
In addition, a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10% (Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet & Mark Murphy)!
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