In the spirit of Customer Service Week, I’ve been reflecting on what goes into stellar service. Based on my professional experience speaking with companies about their customer service goals and challenges, I’ve developed the following four customer service tips that every contact center should make a priority.
Tip #1: Be customer-centric. This seems obvious, but it’s surprisingly rare that companies actually do it. It also has less to do with adopting sophisticated technology than it does with a change in perspective and protocols. Imagine you’re a contact center for a company that just suffered a loss of service, which negatively impacted customers. How about sending your customers an email that takes responsibility for the issue, apologizes for it, and makes it right? And making it right could be a very small reimbursement that, trust me, will be repaid ten-fold in a vastly more loyal customer base.
Tip #2: Personalize it. Customers are fast becoming intolerant of doing repeat business with companies that still seem to have no insight into their buying or service history (think about being sold on a totally irrelevant product or service…ugh). To right this wrong it’s vital that your contact center routing system is integrated with your CRM and other back-end systems that house critical customer data. This enables reps to have a customer’s personal information at their finger-tips so they can more quickly and effectively address issues.
Tip #3: Respond fast. When something impacts a customer, the response must be immediate. Taking action in near real-time – especially in today’s Millennial-driven economy — shows a proactive approach that tells customers they are a priority (see Tip #1). It also eliminates the need for customers to spend more time finding out what, if anything, a company will do about the issue.
Tip #4: Embrace self-service. Sure, you still want to offer easy access to live assistance, but increasingly customers want the anytime/anywhere convenience of self-service. Just be sure when you design these systems you do so with the customer in mind. Survey them and find out what systems they would use and for what purpose. Before going live, test them with a beta group to ensure these systems contribute to a positive customer experience.
The above tips take some investment in the right technology, and often require a change in service culture and policy. However, it’s important to keep in mind that much can be done from little if a company is intentional about its customer engagement strategy.
“We don’t know what we don’t know, so how do we know?”
I had the pleasure of spending a day with a customer service manager and others at a gas/electric utility a couple of weeks ago. My favorite thing was hearing someone say that sentence.
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That question is the sort of question that you would ask a $500/hour consultant, and I certainly wasn’t one of those. But my boss knew that I had built a discrete-event simulation model of the contact center network, and he felt it was time to take the model out for a spin.
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