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 or notifying @verybestservice. 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.

09 October 2013

Customer service week 2013

It is customer service week 7-13 October 2013. Time to celebrate.
Surely this week is an opportunity to communicate to your employees and customers and ask then to join in a celebration of customer service. Only a few days to go so if you have not planned ahead here are a few ideas of things you could do. Please make sure that you take part in this 2013 customer service week, more and more of your customers are expecting you to. If you are already well ahead, please do not hesitate to add your suggestion so that the list can be even more comprehensive for next year.

  • Chairman back on the shop floor - @Centrom @AskaHomes
  • Call for nomination of members of staff who go the extra mile - @GreaterAnglia
  • Free Breakfast and afternoon tea for clients (Avanta Offices) @AvantaOffices
  • Asking students for their feedback on the university - @LeedsMet
  • Call for supporting the entry to a customer service award @NikonatGrays
  • Members of staff tweeting about their work @BrightonHoveCC
  • Free breakfast goodies (Stagecoach bus) @StagecoachEScot
  • Looking for their customer service champion (@The_MMO)
  • Manager serving on Front Desk (@TimeTideMuseum)
  • NVQ certificate presentation to staff members - @DuploUK
  • Bitesize Gober Sessions for staff and Partners (@YourGuinness)
  • "If you were an animal?" (reverse) game/survey/prize draw (Sureflap) @sureflapnews
  • A selection of passenger focused activities - @EMTrains
  • Surprise gifts for customers who visit shops - @Airtel_life
  • Team activity day with treasure hunt (@Moathomes)
  • CEO joining in for charity (@HawksfordGroup)
  • All members of staff involved in doing a customer service survey by telephone - @DuploUK
  • Customer service team partaking in a community impact day - @Moathomes
  • Speaking engagement at customer service week event - @RFClimited
  • Staff job swaps (Stagecoach Bus)
  • Collecting smiles via Instagram - @nationalexpress
  • Appreciation - meet the customer service employees - @SmartSign
  • Asking travellers what song they would like being played on trains (@SouthernRailUK)
  • Visit by local MP to hear advisers in action - @hellosanctuary
And many more....

If you have other customer service celebration ideas, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below and don't forget to capture customers' ideas for customer service week next year...

20 September 2013

Treat your customers like Royalty

Treat your customers like Royalty

Should you treat all your customers like Royalty? We have written previously about whether to offer a standard customer service to all or tailor it to individual customers or group of customers. The debate rages on as tailored customer service will obviously be much more expensive to deliver. There is even an argument that tailoring is not actually required. Most customers need similar things, it is just a matter of anticipating all the possible needs well and standardise the service to accomodate them. Irrespective of the choice made, there is one constant theme, customers should all be treated like royalty, whether they are important in terms of money spend with your company or not. Indeed, the so-called small customers might have rapidly increasing orders or may know a huge number of large customers and become a major referal source for your business.

03 September 2013

Customer service: could your reputation go up in smoke?

customer service smoke signal

Customer service reputation

One critical aspect of good customer service management is to be well aware of all the smoke signals sent by customer though all available channels including social media. If they are carefully monitored, captured and acted upon they can help create a positive feedback loop initiated by customers for the long term benefit of the company. A thorough handling of complaints for example is an easy to achieve step which could led you a long way towards achieving great results. On the other hand, if a company ignores them or thinks that all the customer feedback is unfair or inaccurate, it runs the risk of seeing a gradual deterioration of its trade and see its reputation go up in smoke.

04 July 2013

Customer service at low tide

customer service at low tide

Customer service at low tide

"Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked". This quote from Warren Buffet says it all. It can easily be applied to the field of customer service and every organisation should anticipate predictable changes in the environment they operate in and assess the impact they may have on their customer service performance.

17 May 2013

BIG DATA and customer service

big data customer service image

BIG DATA and customer service

Big data and customer service are definitely becoming the in-topics in the digital industry and there association is also increasingly linked with the ability to improve customer service. Capturing the data, harnessing the data, shaping the data, using the data are all common themes which make the headlines everyday. The power of modern computing technology and data analytics allows companies to capture and model the behaviour of their customers and gain a deep understanding of the key trigger points in their day today interaction with the business. Once the hidden patterns and correlations leading to a purchasing action are fully understood, companies gain predictive influence over their customers and can certainly encourage or stimulate additional purchases. Often this is done under the pretense of better customer service and improved responsiveness to customer needs. 
However, before pushing the experiment too far, it is important that companies reflect on the ethical attributes of the techniques being deployed. Provided they are genuinely aimed at delivering a better customer experience, they could be encouraged. If they are purely designed with the objective to milk more out of a customer, often without him or her realising it, then one should pause and make sure that the customers interest is safeguarded before proceeding.

08 April 2013

Customer service: the path to nowhere?

customer service career path

Customer service career path

Is customer service a good career path for employees? Through the years of writing this blog, we have establish a (small) number of truth which could be hard to challenge. To name a couple, we have established that quality customer service is a key factor in the long term prosperity of an organisation and that employee satisfaction is a key success factor driving good customer service. Bringing the two together, it becomes clear that any organisation must be able to attract quality employees to its customer service teams and to make it attractive in the long run, convince employees that customer service offers a solid career path. To ensure their long term future companies must therefore make sure that enough attention is paid to the customer service career path, not only to allow development of individuals within the function but also to make sure that they can progress in others parts of the business, such as marketing for example, so that there customer interaction experience can be fully leveraged.

09 March 2013

Customer service: the great rotation

The great rotation in customer service
The customer service "great rotation" is inspired from the investment community's current hot topic whereby worldwide money managers may reallocate part of their assets towards more risky investments, for example switching from fixed income instruments to equities. This is done in order to benefit from higher equity yields especially given that interest rates will have to stay low for a while to fuel the economic recovery. This is compounded by the perception that interest rates can not really go lower and, as and when they start to increase, the fixed income instruments will suddenly lose a lot of value.

We could write ten blog posts about this topic alone but the interesting analogy is that we believe that a completely opposite movement could be emerging in customer service, whereby companies engage in a great rotation, reducing spend in marketing (risky) to invest more in customer service (safe). The economic benefits of such an approach could be very tangible, with a strong focus on customer retention rather than customer acquisition. If conducted effectively, the benefits of recommendations from satisfied customers would be enough to generate growth and attract new customers. So why not review the relative risk reward benefits of marketing and customer service and use the results to develop the case for the great rotation.

Picture credit: http://www.davidharber.co.uk/ with our thanks

04 February 2013

Customer service web

customer service web

Customer service web

What can spiders web teach us about customer service? Over the years, they have perfected the art of building a structure which catches all. In many environment, if we leave them a little bit of time, they will construct a web to catch food. What about applying the same technique to customer service? Web based customer service would consist of a close knit network of multiple interactions with customers. Perfectly organised as far as the company is concerned but flexible from the customer point of view, service delivery would be based on multiple nodes, interacting with eachother, supporting each other but also each able to do the job should the "prey" fall in their hands. Imagine what would happen if the spider was referring animals caught in its net to another part of their web. They would escape and the spider would become very hungry. Similarly in its interactions with companies, customers are given too many opportunities to leave. The web based approach would no doubt help increase retention.

Picture courtesy of @PedroStephano with our thanks -   

02 January 2013

A fresh approach to customer service

New customer service approach

New Customer service approach

At the beginning of a new year, many businesses are starting to implement their new strategies and look at fresh ideas. All the budgets have been reset, the new marketing campaigns are ready to be rolled out. New investments in products, overseas expansion, new factories, the company has covered all angles. Customer service should not be left out though! Have you taken the time to review what worked well? In which areas of your business have you received excellent endorsements from your customers? Which teams have demonstrated that their innovations and initiatives have delivered a good customer experience?
A simple fresh approach could be adopted; simply focus on the positives, nurture them, grow them and roll them out, thereby generating fresh enthusiasm and a positive outlook for all your customer service employees. Their improved morale will put a new spring in their steps and ultimately your customers will reap the benefits of this new approach.
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