“Your best customers leave quite an impression. Do the same, and they won’t leave at all.” – SAP
It all comes down to customer service. Well because customers now have a plethora of options – companies are aplenty and each one is vying for their attention by offering a range of products, services, competitive pricing and sops of all kinds. In order for customers to be drawn to a particular company, there has got to be a differentiator – that something unique that will attract them and keep them doing business with the chosen company. This game changer is easy customer service – not plain service but the kind that customer’s perceive as easy and effortless. Easy customer service does not come ‘easy’ for companies that are able to provide it. Companies too have their business imperatives, daily operations, struggles and challenges in addition to being able to attract and retain a fairly ‘tough crowd’ – their customers. It does not suffice anymore to just provide service, but companies have to consistently provide easy customer service – uncomplicated for customers, speedy, effective and available all the time. Not being able to provide easy customer service can very easible spell disaster for companies – which customer has the time or inclination to put in effort and resources into getting what they deserve! Easy customer service keeps the company several steps ahead of even their most demanding customers – leading to loyalty and profitability for their business.
It is a rule for running a successful business that despite the large number of things that the company is constantly juggling and managing, they just cannot drop the ball when it comes to providing memorable customer experiences through efficient and easy customer service. They must remain accessible to their customers, on all the channels of communication now available – this becomes even more challenging if the company has a global presence. But in order to become successful, these kind of consistently happy experiences are a must to attract and retain the most profitable customers. The principle of easy customer service would be that your company is always proactive in deciphering the customers needs and expectations and delivering on them even before the customer asks. This saves a lot of heartburn and disappointment for the customer. In addition, if there does arise a situation where customers are displeased, easy customer service would dictate that the company responds swiftly and provides a solution to appease the customer. Utopia?
Granted that there may be times when the company does not provide the kind of service that we are discussing but no company can afford to ignore the affects. Studies reveal that the loss companies incurred due to poor service, customers leaving them and deciding not to buy midway of a transaction, is a whopping $83 billion. Competition is increasing at a frenzied pace and market is getting smaller – easy customer service will enable a company to gain and hold on to their customers. So what steps does your company take to provide easy customer service along with high quality offerings?
Does your company collect, collate and keep customer information safe and in a centralized place within the company? This is important since customers hate repeating information and would much rather that the company they invest in is able to hold on to the data they provide, their buying history, complaints and compliments – basically everything that the customer has shared in the past. By doing so your company comes across as being efficient, tech-savvy and also committed to providing easy customer service to all its customers. Customer data must not only be accessible to the customer service representatives but also to all departments that would be directly or indirectly responsible for achieving customer satisfaction. A company comes across as professional and well-managed and this customer data ensures that even if there is a problem with a particular customer, the situation can be kept in check by understanding the customer better through the data. It must be mandatory for each employee and team directly responsible for customer service to read and understand the data available on customers. There must also be a core team responsible to constantly update this information based on feedback and data provided by their co-workers. CRM software is a great investment, don’t you think?
“Customer service is not a department, it’s everyone’s job” – this is an anonymous quote but is completely relevant to all companies at all times. Without each person in the company pulling their weight towards the critical area of easy customer service, it may never be a reality for most companies. The customer is unconcerned with whose job or responsibility it is – they want great offerings and stellar customer service and all of this should be available to them easily and with negligible effort to them. In order to provide for the customer’s expectations consistently, the company must be internally strong and united. Department and team silos must be broken down and everyone must work together as one seamless team – a united face for the customer to see. Unless each person within a team and all teams are working together and using the customer data efficiently, a customer will not receive easy customer service. They would need to repeat their request or problem each time they connected to a ‘new’ person in the company. This is the fastest and surest way to drive customers away and keep them away.
With so much and latest technology easily available it is unforgivable from a customer’s perspective that they would need to repeatedly expend their energy and put in effort to explain the problem or service requirement to the company. Consistent training and coaching especially for customer facing representatives is crucial – they must understand the importance of speed, ease and knowledge in customer service. In addition, they must be empowered to take spot decisions in order to resolve the customer’s problems and should be equipped to manage escalations should they arise.
The culture of easy customer service and excellent offerings would necessarily need to flow from the top management. Employees will not be energized and motivated to assist customers (especially if they are not part of teams that directly interface with customers) unless they receive care and understanding from their top leaders. In addition, the leaders must show by example that easy customer service is the core and basis of the company, if they expect employees to follow suit. If such service is the culture and part of the values of the company, employees will be more likely to comply – no one would like to stick out like a sore thumb by doing the opposite. To solidify the culture, aspects like easy customer service (among many other traits) should be mandatory by including them in the performance appraisal documents and criteria for growth and other benefits in the company. Doing so makes these business imperatives each person’s responsibility and cements a customer-focused culture.
It does not suffice, however, to enforce easy customer service and other aspects of customer satisfaction as a business imperative. It is necessary to recognize and reward those employees who consistently work in a way that promotes and solidify these imperatives – attaching some amount of financial benefits ensures their success.
Companies must also continually look beyond the traditional methods of doing business and customer service. Customers have changed, the business environment and even the ‘face’ of their employees have undergone transformation and hence sticking to tried and tested and traditional will not have the desired effect or the rapid progress that companies need and expect. Each person in the company must be a contributor towards revenue and profits. The approach towards customers must change – easy customer service and top class products and offerings are in demand by customers – let them have it!