28 October 2014

Customer service attitude

customer service attitude

Customer service attitude

Encouraging customers to have the right attitude was probably the aim of the owner of this Spanish restaurant when he placed this board at the entrance of his restaurant. Very valid it is, because customers with an open minded, a friendly outlook and positive attitude tend to obtain the best level of customer service as they are able to connect with the staff looking after them. 

The tables could easily be turned though and applied to the staff working in this restaurant. Many of these "recommendations" could equally be suggested to any customer service team even if their employers might be slightly concerned by some of the assertions such as "work less" and "play more"...

Notwithstanding these limitations, this board illustrate perfectly that good customer service is about team work between customers and people looking after them. The right attitude by both parties will help increase the level of customer satisfaction dramatically and actually result in less work and more play time, unless employers wish to convert this new found harmony into productivity gains.

06 October 2014

Customer service week 2014

Customer service week is taking place from 6th October 2014 until 10th October 2014. Once again, we list below some of the initiatices we have come across, mainly via Twitter. With the increasing popularity of Customer Service Week, the number and range of ideas is growing rapidly, making it a week to enjoy for customers all around the country.

- Random guests treated to special prizes @traffordcentre
- Customer service team visiting clients' factories @NeedlersPPE
- Send a customer service week e-card to the CS rockstars in your life @IntegreLynkInfo
- Meet the managers in the bus station @Stagecoach_West
- Office get together to discuss how to make it easy for customers @ZurichMunicipal
- Surprise gift for customer buying extra product or service @nicbankkenya
- Doodles on Customer Service graffiti wall @freebridge
- Provision of housing advice by @GuildfordBC
- Coffee and cake at the University of York Library @UoYLibrary
- Managers and Directors take over the @StagecoachWales and @StagecoachCNL Twitter accounts
- Decorating the office @RACSgroup
- Customer competition for free recharge vouchers @Visafone_Comm
- Asking for nomination of staff who have gone the extra mile @SJBromleyBMW
- Fill in a customer service feedback survey for a chance to win a gift voucher @EastCambs

Great to see all these new ideas and initiatives. Click here to see what happened during customer service week 2013

21 September 2014

Bring customer service to life

Bring customer service to life

When designing a new customer service policy, it is very tempting to go for the minimal offering. Rationale is clear, as such a policy keeps costs low, keeps things simple and provided that expectations are met the customers are unlikely to be disatisfied. It is however missing the point as with such an approach, repeat business is very unlikely unless the pricing policy is such that customers are drawn back but at the same time margins become so slim that it is difficult to earn a decent living.
A more sensible strategy is to bring customer service to life, put some colour in your customer service, surprise the customers, demonstrate vibrancy and give customers a reason for coming back. Most of it can be achieved without any extra spend but relies on the right culture and attitude being fostered throughout the business. 

Are your customer services teams live and kicking?

07 June 2014

Invest in customer service for a rainy day

Invest in customer service for a rainy day

Sometimes, the trading environment for your company deteriorates considerably. This might be due to factors beyond your control such as interruption of public services, supplier failure, natural catastrophe or other unforeseen circumstances. When this happens, customer and employee loyalty becomes a major determinant of a company's survival. Will they continue working with the company through thick or thin or is this just the last straw which will convince them to bail out.

Promises made in these times of hardship will have  little influence on customer and staff behaviour unless past experience has shown that the company cares deeply about its staff and customers. An excellent level of customer service can be just the way to demonstrate it. Customers will be pleased and their loyalty will increase purchase after purchase, reaching a point where they will be prepared to provide support to the company in return when it it experiences a rainy day. 

Similarly, for employees, delivering great customer service makes them proud of their jobs, proud of their achievements and grateful to the company which provides the platform for success. Once again if the circumstances warrant it, these employees will be prepared to go beyond the call of duty and help the company work its way out of trouble.

19 May 2014

Customer service teamwork

Customer service teamwork

The human factor plays a key role in the delivery of excellent customer service and everyone recognises that having a well motivated and trained customer service employee will make a massive difference when interacting with customers and racing against the competition. 

Companies should not ignore that they could make the boat go even faster with a stronger emphasis on teamwork. The management of customers handovers over time and over different channels could be improved so that the best customer service is offered and appears seamless even when dealing with different employees. 

Technology plays a big part in capturing all the information in one place but it is also critical that employees support each other actions without seeding the doubt in the customer mind that maybe the prior handling of their case was not deal with in the best way. Of course any wrongdoing must be put right but it is also critical that everyone pulls in the same direction and until the ultimate goal has been reached, unequivocal commitment from all is required.

28 March 2014

Customer experience vs customer service

Customer experience vs customer service: a war of words?

The debate rages on between supporters of customer experience and fans of customer service. The former argue that customer experience is holistic, it covers the whole range of interactions between the company and its customers, pre-sale, during the sale itself and post-sale. In their vision, they reduce customer service to processes put in place when clients need problems fixed or when they wish to notify the company of their new address. 
Customer service advocates on the other hand argue that customer service is an all-encompassing concept which was always aimed at capturing the whole customer lifecycle. Experience terminology has just been created as a new buzzword to create consultancy opportunities and encourage companies to spend money on the search for the elusive best customer service. 
Who is right and who is wrong? Is there an unwritten rule that when it all goes well and the customer is happy one can speak about good experience whilst if there are issues it is bad service?

Use of words customer experience and customer service in modern literature

Use of words in literature since the beginning of the 20th Century sends us a couple of strong messages which might help solve this question. Looking at the graph above, one is struck by the fact that the concept of "customer service" is very new. Merely 80 years old, so what was happening before? was the service inexistent or were people simply helpful and friendly as opposed to providers of great service.

The other key message here is that since the apparition of the customer experience terminology the use of customer service has declined, suggesting a substitution process between the two. The conclusion is easy to reach, forget the terminology, just ensure a good happening for your customers.

Further reading:
To learn more about customer experience, we recommend this article from the Harvard Business Review, The Truth about Customer Experience which can be found at http://hbr.org/2013/09/the-truth-about-customer-experience/

29 January 2014

Go beyond omnichannel customer service

After a long period of decline, the use of the word 'omni' in English literature seems to be on the up. The same can be said in the field of customer service where omnichannel has become the buzz word, with the intention to offer a seamless service across an organisation. But why restrict yourself to omnichannel. Ideally, organisation need to adopt an omnicorporeal approach to customer service, ensuring that an omnifarious desire to satisfy customers is omnipresent. This is only achievable if companies employ omnicompetent staff able to solve omnigenous queries. Once the basics are in place, management can omnify the philosophy throughout its operations which should ensure that customers are provided with an omnibus service. Finally gathering of the customer service omniana will be critical to the feedback loop and the more forward looking organisations might consider employing omnivore staff who have the appetite for handling the most complex situations.

15 January 2014

Service without restrictions

For customers, the notion of best service might only become real when all restrictions surrounding classic service delivery have been removed. No opening hours, endless availability of products in all shapes, colours and sizes, no queues, free parking available at all times, no reservations needed, 24/7 delivery hours, ability to change bookings at short notice, immediate repesponse time via social media, no quibble returns policy...the list is long. 
The cost issue is a major hurdle standing between customers and the best service utopia but nevertheless, companies are trying to deliver elements of this vision via an increased use of technology [whilst at the same time reducing some of their costs]. 
The unstopabble growth of self-service is eliminating many constraints but making customers work hard to obtain the service they feel they deserve. Why don't companies contribute their part by having a systematic look at what other service restrictions exist within their organisations and see if these could be lifted.

12 December 2013

Best customer service


Best customer service formula

The recipe for best customer service has never been published yet many organisations claim to know the secret formula. By performing a key word density analysis on a number of relevant pages we have come up with the secret formula from the customer point of view:

29% - deliver a result: give the customer what he wants and that will be a key driver of satisfaction
25% - being helpful: all about attitude and clearly trying to help the customer resolve their queries
11% - speed: giving a solution quickly is appreciated by customers
10% - listening: listening to the customer is a mark of respect and will help understand his/her "case"
7% - learning: customers want companies to learn from previous situations so bad stuff does not happen again
4% - experienced and skilled staff: clients want to deal with competent staff
3% - social media presence: for some customers, social media will help deliver the best customer service
3% - excellence: quality of service has a role to play in the overall customer service process
3% - marketing: the promise of good customer service actually contributes. It shows the company commitment to deliver the very best customer service
2% - rules: some rules help sometimes - consumer rights, warranties, service levels, compensation?
2% - privacy: important to keep customers matters confidential
2% - care: empathy, and care can matter enormously in some situations

What do you think? Is this the right formula for best customer service?
Please let us have your opinion by taking part in the best service poll in the right side-bar or post your suggestions on Twitter using the hashtag #bestservice. Thank you



12 November 2013

Customer service culture

customer service culture

Customer service culture

Establishing the right customer service culture is a vital part of any customer service policy and a pre-requisite for delivering the best service possible. Companies want to make sure that their employees behaviours are conditioned by a set of values and beliefs which will protect the interests of all customers during their sales, marketing and servicing efforts. Internal communication programmes are put in place and incentives scheme designed to make sure that the customer service culture permeates everything that the company does. One factor is often missed though as it is also important to adjust the service delivery to regions and countries in which the company operates. Trying to deploy the home culture in overseas market might be perceived to be charming and original for a while but is rarely sustainable. Similarly, using overseas servicing centres for the home market is often prone to cultural challenges. So when next discussing customer service culture, don't forget to include the culture of your customers as a key parameter.