Customer service is challenging

“Leadership means facing challenges head-on”

Just because customer service is challenging and poses a number of situations that prove daunting even to the most seasoned professional, you cannot let your customer service endeavours become an extra or a second thought. The first step to managing customers is the understanding that customer service is challenging and that these challenges could arise from you not meeting the customer’s expectations to customers being overly demanding and unreasonable. Whatever be the case, it would be wise never to assume that customers know how to connect with you or they know that their demands are disproportionate to your company’s products or capabilities. Set clear expectations from the start of the journey to avoid adding stress to an already high-pressured function. There is no escaping that there will always be times when customers will be unhappy and even rude ones – we told you that customer service is challenging. It is the responsibility of the company and its representatives to give customers great experiences and change their mind-set to having positive impressions of your products and services.

The trick to managing the challenges of customer service is to look for beyond the regular methods of managing customers, innovating and overall keeping the customer pleased with whatever you are offering – products and customer service. Everything in the business world is moving really fast – new companies, new technology, new channels of communication – these factors too have drawn attention to the fact that customer servicing is challenging and is increasingly so. Companies also face the additional challenge of keeping employees interested in working for them long term – the companies that have taken the wise route are not averse to employing a cross-section of employees, especially in customer service contact centres. There are students pursuing part time courses, retired professionals, housewives who can only work for some hours and the regular employees who are there permanently. This has helped not just to counter employee attrition but also to reduce some of the challenges of customer service. Companies must service their customers in whatever way possible and yet maintain high levels of service.

Customer service is challenging but companies can counter this by tapping in to the sea of talent, knowledge and experience available in the market. How many companies are actually taking advantage of this great opportunity to reduce the challenges faced in customer service? They either are not aware of the kind of talent available or don’t have the resources to attract the talent or their policies and strategies limit them – either way they are unable to adequately counter the challenging customer service function. The ultimate goal of customer service is creating situations that are feasible and win-win for both the customers and the company. Customers must feel like they are being listened to and valued and companies must be able to grow, be profitable and have a customer base that is loyal and happy. Customer service is challenging but a customer centric company will have in place processes that will surely have a significant impact on reaching the mutual goals.

Customer service is challenging also because it is constantly evolving and changing given that new technology continues to sweep across every aspect of a company, affecting customer service as well. While companies are struggling and partly succeeding in keeping pace with these advances in technology, there are times when some issue falls through the cracks leading to customer dissatisfaction. What are some of the factors (apart from human error and unreasonable customers) that make customer service as challenging as we know it and also keeping it so endlessly.

– The bane and boon of social media – Customers are exceedingly using these sites to constantly ask questions, make comments and the most dreaded post complaints. If a company is not ‘social media ready’ they will most certainly ignore this channel and remain unresponsive. Such companies will be losing out on a lot of business from both existing and prospective customers and unless they pick up on these vital cues from customers, customer service will remain more challenging than they would be able to handle. Companies that constantly seek to reduce the intensity of customer service challenges will invest in talent and resources that will focus on responding to customers who connect via social media sites.

– More technology – smart devices, applications and so much readily available information – is making customers shorter on patience. When companies don’t respond by speeding up their responses and providing quick solutions, there will be every reason to know that customer service is challenging. Customers hate being asked to wait, being put on hold for what seems like an eternity, shoved around from one customer service person to the next and being made to wade through websites and IVRs that are a nightmare. Is there any wonder then that customer service becomes more challenging than it already is?

– Customers want to be spoiled for choices. Whether it’s in the products or the channels through with they can connect with a company – they refuse to settle for less. There is no doubt that customer service is challenging when trying to meet these demands, but you can be sure it is less challenging when your company incorporates as many of these choices. Of course providing consistent and seamless service via all the channels would also be essential for customer service to be effective. For a customer this means that the information provided by them must be available to all sections of the customer service staff so that if they move from a phone call to a live chat for example, they are not expected to restate their details or explain their problem. Unless companies get over their digital handicap and become technologically capable, every aspect of business will be challenging with its root in shoddy customer service.

– As companies grow, which they will continue to do, managing the expanding amounts of customer data will become completely impossible. There are all kinds of data totally related to customers and there is other data from the company’s business perspective that ties in and supports customer data, making for a complex whole. Unless companies manage this ocean of information properly, they will be unable to find ways to improve and provide the kind of seamless, continuous and efficient service that the customers are constantly demanding and raising the bar on. Many companies have now turned to Big Data – that comprises both organized and unorganized information but if used judiciously companies would be able to use the information to service their customers better and be able to better match the growing demands and pre-empt future needs and trends. Customer data is like a gold mine and must be taken advantage of by bettering your company’s output, offerings and customer service. You might as well delete all the information if you don’t plan to use it to make your customers happy and make your company more profitable.

Customer service is challenging especially because it is completely dependent on how customers perceive it. There is no way of accurately predicting what is going to change and how – for example who knew that social media would change the way people communicate and how powerful it would become.

The upside of the challenges is that it provides opportunities for improvement and innovation and companies that seize these chances are the ones that will succeed.

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