Efficiency and Quality in Customer Service

“Productivity and efficiency can be achieved only step by step with sustained hard work, relentless attention to details and insistence on the highest standards of quality and performance.” – J. R. D. Tata

There are some truths about customer service – one is that it is not possible for a company to please all customers, customers are not always right, it is a challenge for companies to always  provide the kind of experiences customers expect, and most importantly – efficiency and quality in customer service can make several wrongs, right. Despite companies realizing these truths, they seem to struggle with providing customers with the kind of service and experiences that would keep them happy and sending out consistent messages from the company via all touch-points and channels of communication. Companies struggle, also with understanding whether they should provide friendly service or ensure efficiency and quality. This is so, because companies do not take the trouble to understand what customers actually care about and for what they would be willing to pay more. Research and reports reveal that customers would be willing to spend more on buying a company’s offerings if they would receive the best in class customer service.

It is clear that customers expect speed, efficiency and quality in customer service since that would mean better experiences, added value, and due importance to them. Companies that cannot provide such service, end up losing business and market reputation. The fact is that both efficiency and quality in customer service are necessary, since the absence of either, would result in customers receiving sub-standard service. For example – companies tend to outsource the service call centres such that the higher numbers of employees can handle more service issues, but sacrifice quality experiences in the bargain. While it could be beneficial and cost effective for a company in the short-term, over time customers tend to break away from the company due to its inability to provide the experiences they deserve and expect.

With some effort and focus, companies can do both – efficiency and quality in customer service is a possibility. While it is essential to make customers feel welcome through courtesy and a smile, in the digital world of today it has become more imperative to ensure reliability, efficiency, and quality in service. Most transactions and interactions today are through some kind of digital medium and channel, and therefore companies need to adapt their processes and practices to suit these changing needs and preferences. In the previous exposition, we spoke about social listening as part of efficiency and quality in customer service. In addition, companies must put together a team dedicated to ‘listening and monitoring’ customer behaviour via all channels, interacting with them, providing solutions and responses via the same channels that customers may use to connect. Whatever method a company uses, the important thing is to figure out and track, the customer’s service needs and provide for them, consistently and efficiently.

Some of the most successful companies today, are so because their foundation lies on efficiency and quality in customer service they provide and do so with laser-like precision. They focus on details – their website would be warm, welcoming, and easy to navigate, their social media sites would match the culture and feel of the company, the products would be of high quality, and they would ensure that the purchasing process of their products would be simple and user-friendly. The reason these companies flourish is because, they strive to become experts at what they do and make every process simpler for their customers. Efficiency and quality in customer service seem to ‘rule the roost’ of customer preferences and wants – so is it prudent for companies to go against customer wishes.

Efficiency and quality in customer service is about remaining attentive to customers. While brands may have an innumerable number of ways to engage with their customers, only a small percentage of them actually have a robust and formal strategy to collect and collate customer data in one consolidated database, for use across their company. When customers interact even once with a company, they expect that they next time they connect with the company, their previous interaction would ensure that the service representatives know their issue, and this is possible only through a database that would capture every interaction with a customer. If the service representatives do not have access to such a database, it would hard for them to provide a speedy and efficient experience to the customer. Customers do not like to wait or repeat information and hate it when service reps transfer their call from one department / person to the next – reasons enough for them to seek a company that would treat them better.

In order to ensure efficiency and quality in customer service, companies must standardize their methods of collecting and storing customer data. By integrating data from all channels and media, a company would be able to generate a complete and holistic perspective of the customer data. This all-round perspective would enable companies to understand their customers better, remain proactive with ascertaining their needs, and enhance the efficiency and quality in customer service they provide.

With the boom in technology, the number of channels of communication have increased manifold, and customers do not shy away from using them. Companies therefore, must be prepared to receive queries and respond to customers through any channels that customers choose. It does not matter to a customer as to who in the company receives their query – for a customer what matters would be that they receive a speedy, efficient, and high quality response from the company via the same channel. Research has proved repeatedly that at least 60% customers expect responses from companies within 1-2 hours depending upon their query and the channel they may have used. While this may seem hard to do for most companies given the large number of customers and the many channels of communication, it is not an impossible task. It is all about focus, customer-centricity, and using the right technology to ensure that the company consistently provides efficiency and quality in customer service.

The more efficient a company becomes at understanding customers, the easier it would be to provide proactive customer service (as opposed to reactive service, where companies respond when customers ask questions or pose problems). At least 73% customers say that they prefer companies that value their time, anticipate their needs, and resolve issues before they become full-fledged problems. Self-service is on the rise – when working efficiently these ‘portals’ can help customers get responses to basic queries and information without wasting time or waiting for company representatives to respond. Not only does this reduce the waiting time for customers, it also reduces the number of ‘routine query’ calls company representatives may receive, thereby freeing up their time to deal with more complex service and customer issues. Overall, all these factors contribute to the efficiency and quality in customer service a company provides, which over time would lead to customer loyalty and brand affinity and advocacy.

It is possible for every company – irrespective of size – to enhance the levels of efficiency and quality in customer service consistently. It would be in the best interest of companies to do so, since happy customers mean more business, positive testimonials, brand advocacy, and overall a booming company bottom line.

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