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“Everybody has a need for speed and you actually make your product, or service, or services more attractive when you do them fast.” – Brian Tracy

With so much competition in every aspect of life, especially business, customers seek companies that can give them what they want fast, such that they can continue with their own business. Customers usually contact a company only when they need something or want help – it would be safe to say then that speed in customer service acquires top priority for customers. This would mean also, that efficiency and accuracy alone are not enough – consistently fast service is critical too.

We have discussed several times that outstanding customer support entails a lot of things and can be quite a stressful job. Maintaining one’s calm, having top skills and knowledge, a robust personality ready to help, ability to manage time and several tasks at once, ability to show empathy and care, skill in remembering customer details, and doing all these and more at top speed – all belong to the customer service realm. The tasks that service personnel deal with daily tend to become rote and boring, making the job a lot harder. However, this constant challenge must be overcome, while maintaining speed in customer service – customers have a lot less patience today. Hence, for customers top class service would mean efficiency, knowledge, and immediacy. There is a very real fear of things falling through the cracks or the temptation to dish out half-baked service in order to feed the need for speed of customers.

The best way to ramp up on the speed in customer service is by putting oneself in the customer’s place. They engage with a company in the hope that their lives would be a lot easier, the company would understand their problems, and treat them with empathy and care. All these expectations have the underlying and unsaid need of having all delivered to them with efficiency but also with speed. One of the top reasons for customers to leave a company and or provide poor comments about a company would be slow service. Online transactions and shopping carts are abandoned daily for the same reason – delays and slower than expected service and navigation. The challenge for companies is herculean – simply because every customer’s expectation of speed in customer service would differ and despite best efforts, companies are unable to match each need for speed, resulting in lowered customer satisfaction and maybe even churn.

Customers just want to have personalized service and speedy resolutions to their problems. Companies with a humane outlook and practice in speed in customer service would be more likely to gain and retain a larger number of customers. Companies that constantly seem to struggle with retaining customers would be the ones unable to maintain and sustain speed in customer service. Customers today know that information is everywhere, there are several tools to gather and maintain data, and that companies have access to all these. This is why customers see no reason to wait or accept slow service, and with so many choices, customer loyalty is already fast becoming ephemeral and a depleting asset. For companies, speed in customer service, would mean staying current and fresh in the mind of their customers – if a company is always there and ready with service and solutions, customers would gravitate towards it.

A lot has changed in the world of business and in the realm of customer service. Not too long into the past, customers were happy with the bare minimum and customer satisfaction is what companies aimed for to stay in business and keep customers loyal. However, now customers want better than the best, their expectations change all the time, and they demand that companies see the issues from their point of view alone. A company that is unable to match pace with these expectations, and accelerate the speed in customer service it provides, can expect to be ignored and side-lined by the customers and the market. Top quality customer service now encompasses speedy and fast service too. A survey conducted, revealed that speed in customer service trumped efficiency, accuracy, professionalism, and knowledge of agents, and another survey showed that for customers quality in service is now a given but would be useless without speed. The combined voices of customers are becoming louder and echoing the same sentiment – slow responses and service would not be tolerated.

Despite the critical nature of speed in customer service, several companies seem to sorely lack in this area. A study revealed that a mere 37% companies were able to respond within an hour to sales leads, 23% never responded, and the average response time for most companies was about 42 hours. This clearly shows that the majority of companies are unable to / unwilling to make speed in customer service a priority. On the other hand, this also bodes well for companies that are willing to keep pace with and engage with existing and prospective customers at the speed at which they expect. Such companies would pre-empt opportunities and act on them well before their competition would even get ‘whiff’ of them – a great way to forge and stay ahead.

The good news is that speed in customer service is not that hard – technology has ensured it. With so many different customer service channels, communication, and engagement with customers are now only a click of a button away. It is a colossal waste when companies fail to utilize all the avenues at their disposal to provide the kind of service customers expect, and in turn heap problems on their businesses. Customers today, can reach out companies via social media – research shows that more than 50% consumers use the various social platforms to connect with companies. Given that immediacy and speed are the USPs of social media platforms, customers expect that companies will always be available and respond to them extremely fast. Statistics collected with regard to what customers expect for speed in customer service via social media reveal that an hour to 6 hours is all customers are willing to give. The number of hours depends on the social medium being used, and 77% customers said that 6 hours is the turnaround response time they expect via email.

While companies – about 90% say that they do respond to customers instantly via social media, this claim is refuted by customers. At least 58% customers say that they did not receive a reply from companies or that the response times were as high as 9 hours – too long for customers to want to wait. Slow poke service would result in negativity and customer churn – which over time would adversely affect the prospects of any company.

Despite these shocking statistics and consistent demands of customers for speed in customer service, businesses seem to be neglecting this aspect. There is no easy way out – customers demand near perfection in every aspect of their relationship with companies and only those companies who are able to come close to these expectations would have some hope for survival. Every company needs customers and for a business to survive, most of these customers would need to be profitable and loyal. However, in the tough market of today, these attributes are not a given – they must be earned and fought for since there are far too many similar offerings in the market today. The only point of differentiation would seem to be service and speed in customer service would make a company stand out. Staying connected with customers is a great idea, and helps to build a great rapport with them. Ensure however, that swift action not only saves time, money, and effort for the customer, but for your company too. Can your company claim speed in customer service today?

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