Customer Service is important for all Departments

by | Jun 22, 2015 | Customer Service | 0 comments

“Customer Service shouldn’t just be a department. It should be the entire company.” – Tony Hsieh

We have been through many expositions on the critical nature of customer service. We have touched on the fact that customer service is important for all departments and should not be bracketed into one department. Companies are realizing the importance of ensuring that customer service is woven into every department and every job title. For example – the core customer service department would often need the help of the Information Technology team. Unless the IT team realizes the significance of customer service, it would be tough for them to provide the top class service required to keep customers happy. No company can survive without customer service and so it makes sense that every person in the company has a customer service responsibility. No one can any longer afford to say that “it is not my job. I work in XYZ department”. In fact, customer service should clearly mentioned in each person’s job description and be a vital part of a good performance appraisal – top management included.

The fact that customers are the life-blood of any organization and the money they spend and invest in the company is what runs it, they have the right to expect and demand that when they reach out to the company, their issues are resolved. A company that has an overall culture and focus of customer service would be able to consistently provide high levels of service, which in turn will ensure repeat business from customers, high praise through social media and onward referrals as well. What better way is there to grow one’s business than to have your customers help you do it! It is a huge saving on the costs that are always incurred in trying to attract new customers. Making customer service key to every department will always have its benefits and pay rich dividends over time and for a long time.

Is your company of the opinion that customer service is important for all departments? If not, then why? If yes, then what are you doing to ensure that not just the customer service team, but all departments support your company in providing great customer service, thereby strengthening the bottom line? Let’s see what would be common among companies that actually believe that customer service is not just one department but a function for the entire company.

  • Each person in the company must know the company well – its history, values, mission, vision and most importantly the products and brands. When customers call, the first department they would engage with would be the customer service team and this team should ideally be able to answer most of the questions related to the products and brands. Their product knowledge must withstand a series of questions that a customer may have and should not need to pass the question to someone else ‘who can answer the question’. Not being able to get answers to basic questions about the products can be highly annoying and irritating for the customer, who would much rather contact a company whose representatives are more in control and have the requisite knowledge. However, if the questions are too technical in nature, the customer service agents would forward the questions on to the teams that would be able to explain adequately to the customer. This means that the technical teams should also have product knowledge and understand the criticality of being able to provide information from a customer service point of view.
  • With the aim of ensuring that customer service is part of all departments, companies must ensure that there is well-articulated, written and accessible training manual. Each person must be required to read this manual to understand how customer service is to be handled and what needs to be done in crisis situations with customers. Each person must be aligned with the customer service team to ensure that they understand the urgency of resolving customer queries and problems in swiftest and most efficient manner. Each team must share their experiences, learning and training with others through the company intranet or even specific group emails. The reverse is also equally important – the product design team must ensure that any design changes must be discussed with the sales and marketing teams and also the customer service teams such that they know what they must convey to customers going forward. The purchasing team must let all know if there would be any delays in the products being delivered or whether there is any price, packaging or other changes to the products. All departments working as one cohesive and collaborative team will ensure that customer service remains at the centre of all departments and each person understands that it is imperative to provide the highest levels of service at all times.
  • Achieving a customer focused culture would mean that companies begin from the inside out. Treating employees – all levels and all departments – well will ensure that they are keen to serve the company through its customers. They would be happy to answer questions from customers and would use every customer interaction as an opportunity to raise the good reputation of the company. They would endeavour that every customer remains happy and each connection they make is beneficial to them. Ensure that the customer service team primarily, delivers service with a smile. It may sound clichéd but unless the teams are genuinely happy to serve customers, they would never be able to achieve the standard of service required of them. All other departments that directly and indirectly provide support to the customer service team must ensure that they view the customer service agents as being representative of customers and respond to them in the same way. This linked together service is what will make the end customer service one that customers will be happy to remember and also be willing to spread the word about the high quality service.

We have always begun with the premise that customer service is not an easy job. In fact, it is perhaps amongst the most challenging and stressful jobs there are since managing so many needs, personalities and requirements is never trouble-free. All departments must be trained to appreciate and recognize the cumbersomeness of customer service so that they can ‘pull their weight’ to ensure that the actual customer service teams receives all the support they need leaving them less stressed and in a better position to serve the end customer. The company exists because of the customers and people have jobs because the company has customers – so the importance of customer service also lies in the fact that people would be unemployed if there was no service and hence no customers.  In the words of Henry Ford – “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages”. Keeping this thought in mind will ensure that each person remains humble and ready to serve the customer in whatever manner required – directly or indirectly and also remember to keep the ego out of the way and never say that “this is not my job”. Keeping the customer happy is everyone’s job.

It will never suffice irrespective of the number of times we say that customer service is a tough job. However, with on-going, relentless and inclusive efforts it can be the most highly rewarding and profitable part of any business. When everyone in the company works together to ensure that customer service is not just a department but a crucial part of the entire company, the company will be able to reach unprecedented heights in service and in turn profits and success.  When a company breaks down ‘departmental walls and silos’ it will ensure that, irrespective of the position and department, each person will treat customer service as their job.

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