Customer Service Can Make It or Break It
Posted by Becky Carroll on March 8, 2007
From a customer perspective, it tells them where you are focused.
Are you just trying to get me off the phone quickly so you can go on to other calls? Or do you take the time I need to follow an issue through to its completion, taking ownership for my problem?
Do I have to repeat my information multiple times as I interact with you? Or do you use the information you have about me to make our time together more efficient (a benefit for us both)?
From an employee perspective, it tells them whether people are treated with respect. This is especially important for customer service employees, who are sometimes treated as just another “warm body in a seat”.
Do I really get to answer the customer’s question? Or do I need to carefully reply from a set of scripted responses?
Am I empowered to resolve the customer’s problem? Or am I required to pass the problem along to someone else so I can keep my “talk time” numbers low?
Customer service can be a true jewel for any organization. This is the department where direct customer interaction most frequently takes place, and it is the face of the company for many customers. It can also provide competitive advantage as you learn things about your customers that your competitors don’t know, simply because you have the relationship already.
You can also find some of your most valuable employees in customer service. Valeria Maltoni wrote a great post for Fast Company about how to find a “customer service champ”. I especially like Valeria’s description of the champ’s characteristics:
– She has specific ideas of how to improve internal processes to provide a faster response to your customers.
– She can describe to you in detail what good service means to your customers.
– She can enroll everyone in the organization to help her provide your customers with a superior experience.
When you find these employees, make sure to treat them with respect and reward them appropriately! Their customer touch-point is critical.
On the flip side, customer service can also drive people away. Mike Wagner from Own Your Brand sent me this story, which he gave me permission to share with all of you.
“I was getting ready to do a “brand ownership” presentation and was greeting people with some small talk. Two of the folks began talking about cell phone service after a comment was made about a negative service experience with Sprint.
Suddenly, four others in the group joined at the mention of Sprint and bad service. I was left to watch as one story after another was shared about how bad the service was with Sprint.
Finally, one woman shared that her son, who works for Sprint, told her not to even bother with customer service at Sprint. He also gave her the name of the carrier he recommends and told her to switch.
Customers rock…and they will roll on down the street to your competitor!”
Well put, Mike!
What does your customer service department say about your company? If you aren’t sure, go spend some time there and find out. Bring them into your strategic planning sessions, if they aren’t there already. You will find them to be a tremendous asset to your organization as well as a great way to understand your customers better!
(Photo credit: uploaded by guyerwood)