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Buck the trend with renewed customer focus
Customer service isn’t what it used to be.
Across the United States, there seems to be a steady decline in the customer service levels of nearly every type of business. Companies just aren’t paying enough attention to providing adequate levels of customer service by phone, online or in person. For the American consumer, substandard service has become the new normal.
What’s leading to this decline? In my experience, I’ve noticed that many businesses are making the same mistakes, over and again. There is a lack of training and little investment in basic customer service skills while setting sky-high sales expectations and measuring employee performance with a maniacal zeal.
Often, companies will go on the defensive when called out on poor service — blaming it on the tight labor market or a shortage of qualified employees. But it often comes down to not taking the time to instill core service training for all customer-facing employees.
These businesses do not recognize that the cost to acquire a new customer is always higher than simply taking better care of and retaining your current customers.
Getting Customer Service Right
So, how can your company buck the trend? It starts with making a commitment to improving the consumer experience:
- Put it on paper. Make customer service a business priority. It should be part of your company’s strategic plan.
- Find out what the customer thinks. Utilize quick, 1-2 question online surveys post-transaction to at least get more customer feedback. Make it easy for the customer to respond.
- Invest in your employees. Take the time to make the investment in employee training to cultivate customer service skills. If you do so, you will set your company apart immediately from most of your competitors
- Understand the customer journey. Don’t try to throw technology at customer service as a blanket cure-all without first understanding the customer experience. Technology may make the customer’s journey worse!
- Put your money where your mouth is. Be part of the solution by helping raise the bar for customer service across the business sector. As a customer, patronize the companies who provide better service, and let them know it!
Online Barriers to Customer Service
These days, customers expect bad service. They accept it due to being faced with it so much more often, everywhere — they’re truly expecting less. In some ways, it’s a consequence of the impersonal nature of the online world. With increasing automation of services (think never-ending phone menus or getting stuck in voicemail jail), it’s become difficult for customers to actually speak to a living person who cares about service.
Customers are becoming used to having less interaction with a living person and only defaulting to a customer service representative if they encounter a problem. This is a direct reversal of how it was in the past when the customer journey would start with engaging another person.
Businesses can respond by using online technology to increase the power of human interaction instead of seeking to replace it. Make it easier for customers to get the answers they want while providing your employees with the information they need to better serve them.
Be the Difference
Customers deserve better service, even if they no longer expect it. This gives businesses an opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competition by surprising and delighting customers with the quality of their service. An investment in customer service is an investment in your future.
May 16, 2019 at 12:10PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs