20 December 2010

Customer service: relationship management

customer relationship management

Customer service relationship 

For better or for worse... Customer relationship management is all about working together, not imposing what suits one party or the other. Irrespective of the initial engagement, companies which can demonstrate flexibility, and wish for the relationship to succeed, will stimulate their customers to adopt the same behaviour. And, long after the wedding day all will live in harmony in the long term....
Picture courtesy of CocoonPhotography with our thanks -

19 December 2010

Customer service examples

Customer service examples: Here are a few quotes by @Thoughtbuddy giving us his take on good customer service:

"For me, an example of @ is when the shop assistant walks around from behind the counter/till to hand over your purchase(s)."

"Also think it's @ when assistant refers to you by name using details on your payment / loyalty card."

"It's better to take the customer to where the product they're after is on the shelf/rail rather than just give directions."

"A basic: staff engaging in friendly banter with the customer rather than talking to their colleagues/pals."

Thank you Simon

Customer service: giving up is not an option

Customer service options

Customer service options

In a harsh climate, companies' leadership teams may decide that investment in customer service is a low priority. Whilst the motivation is easy to understand and often driven by cost management measures, it is not sustainable. After all, when the winter is over, clients will remember where their bad customer experience and this will clearly influence their decision for future purchases. So even when it is tough out there, good customer service remains a critical tool to outshine the competition.

23 November 2010

Customer service: the social media wave

customer service social media

Social media customer service

Social media, and Twitter in particular, is being used more and more as a customer service channel. It is attractive for customers as it brings immediacy of contact and from the companies' perspective, if handled carefully, it is a fantastic marketing opportunity: the social networks can provide spectacular word of mouth responses, help considerably with brand awareness and can be a very strong source of recommendations. Will the emerging wave turn into something bigger or simply fade away?
Challenges for social in the long run are multiple: a network like Twitter has a narrow bandwidth for a given company and can only handle a relatively small number of customer interactions at a time. Also it provides very little triage capabilities at the moment and all queries are channelled in one place, it is like having only one email account in the old days. But more concerning is that, as time goes by and the novelty factor fades, the bad practices which we see in real life (bad response time, no response etc) are starting to creep in the social media customer service sphere and this may encourage the general public to go away and try something else.
Picture by verygoodservice.com

20 November 2010

Customer service skills: simplicity is key

customer service skillsWhat customer service skills do you really need? Good service, delivered well, will always win the day. The rule book should establish the basic customer service definition: for a restaurant, this can be as simple as a bottle of (cold) water and a couple of glasses on every table. Much of the perception about the quality of service, however, will be determined by the service skills, factors such as the human interaction between the customer and staff... Assuming that the quality of the product is beyond reproach and not over priced, if the staff attitude is good, the overall service assessment will be positive, irrespective of its level of sophistication.

Picture by verygoodservice.com

Update customer service skills 2013

We have prepared a list of customer service skills which we consider to be essential when implementing an effective customer service strategy. They can be found by reading this blog post: list of customer service skills

10 November 2010

Bridging the gap in customer service

gap in customer service

Customer service gaps

A major challenge for service companies is to bridge the gap between customer expectations and service provision. This is actually extremely difficult to achieve as there is little reward for over delivery when the expectation is low but potential for a massive back-clash when the service levels are judged to be insufficient in the eyes of customers. This may result in a dramatic misallocation of resources which can cost companies much in terms of lost sales. The solution has to be to think hard about the service design, to relax rigid procedures and to introduce flexibility in the customer service provision by placing more reliance on employees.

Picture courtesy of Matt Rhodes with our thanks - http://twitter.com/#!/mattrhodes

26 October 2010

Invest in customer service to cut the waste

customer service waste

Customer service waste

Cut the waste: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published amazing statistics about the amount of food and drinks wasted every year in the UK. The total avoidable waste represents £12 bn a year according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme. In your business, can you quantify the waste directly attributable to poor customer service? And, more importantly what is needed to capture this enormous source of added productivity?

Picture courtesy of WRAP with our thanks

06 August 2010

Customer service excellence: does the client perspective matter?

customer service excellenceThe client will drive the score in customer satisfaction survey and he/she will decide whether to remain loyal and recommend the company. From the company point of view the same metrics will be used to measure customer service performance: whichever way you look at it,
customer service excellence
the winner should be the same. Do not hesitate to visit our website for good customer service examples by award-winning companies

For more customer service excellence examples, visit our blog: blog.verygoodservice.om

23 July 2010

Tailored customer service or one size fits all

tailored customer service

Tailored customer service

One of the challenges when defining the attributes of a customer service strategy is to decide whether the approach should be the same for all customers or whether a degree of flexibility is possible. If companies chose to offer a tailored customer service to all, costs are becoming a major issue and the products and services become uncompetitive, unless the client is prepared to pay for it. Interestingly, recent experiences have shown that an award-winning company which claims to offer a very good customer service actually failed to deliver when pushed beyond its normal boundaries. On the other hand, two companies which do not specifically claim to offer a great service actually adapted their standard procedures to accomodate. The difference between these companies is even more striking as one company initially said yes but did not deliver whilst the other two started by saying no but actually came up with the goods. Is it true therefore that companies which say "no" actually have the greatest ability to deliver tailored customer service?

Picture by verygoodservice.com/

10 May 2010

Why is customer service so important?

The importance of customer service

We were interviewed by Social Small Biz on the topic. Here is the link to the post:


A lot has already been written about customer service and I will not attempt to give you the full 50 pages answer: that can easily be found in text books. Instead I would like to focus on 3 aspects which all have critical impact on the financial health of a business.The first point is that customer service can be instrumental in managing the price sensitivity of customers. At a time when the economy is struggling and the fiscal pressure is increasing, everyone wants a good deal, but the explosion of voucher sites, discount codes and special sales is disorientating customers. They do not know when to shop, are constantly being moved around by comparator sites and

06 March 2010

Good customer service attributes (Take 2)

good customer service attributesCustomer service attributes: Back in September, we thought that a tree was the best way to illustrate the qualities and attributes of customer service. Here is a serious new contender though: serene, calm, collected, elegant on the outside and apparently swimming effortlessly, but peddling frantically below the waterline to make sure that things happen. The other quality that the swan brings to customer service attributes is the ability to transfer knowledge and skills and train the next generation, seamlessly.

We would love to hear your views on what you believe the most important attributes are so please don't hesitate to leave a comment with your top three.

Picture courtesy of http://www.peterstephens.co.uk with our thanks

28 February 2010

Good customer service is key to job satisfaction

Customer service job satisfaction

Customer service job satisfaction

Whilst the focus is very often to reduce costs and offer the minimum service to customers, there is a great source of productivity which is often ignored. Employees who are given the means to offer a good service such as replacement products or ability to alter existing arrangements will not have to deal to the same extent with the wrath of customers and therefore will be much happier and much more committed to their jobs and their employers. Customer service skills and training are clearly important but the explicit policy to deliver good customer service is critical to employees job satisfaction and their attitude will make the real difference in terms of actually improving customer service.

Picture courtesy of Andy Newson with our thanks - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=5

07 February 2010

Customer service: clients want to have their cake and eat it too

Customer service clients

Customer service clients

With the incredibly rapid development of social media, customers believe that they can have their cake and eat it too. It is going to prove increasingly difficult for companies to manage customers' expectations. Consumers are now looking for a fuller set of quality attributes when selecting where to shop and how to obtain customer service. New social media channels are being opened everyday. No-one is prepared to pay to use them yet more and more people expect them to be available 24/7. Financing this new service delivery channels and maintaining an appropriate level of quality for each of them will prove to be a challenge. Customers will not accept that companies remove the icing on the cake to pay for better customer service so it will have to either be an increase in price which might reduce demand or a reduction in margins to finance social media development.

Picture courtesy of  Gower Cottage with our thanks - 

07 January 2010

Encouraging customer service feedback through social media

customer feedback

Customer service feedback

After a long session of surf or for that matter a good or bad customer service occurence, most clients want to share what they experienced. The choice for companies is either to encourage this desire for communication so that it creates the right swell when positive or to put their head in the sand and hope the bad press goes away. Social media is making a two tier system more difficult to organise as the good mixes with the bad. To counter this, some companies are starting to set up dedicated accounts on Twitter for the problem areas such as delivery issues or service outage. But, is this segmentation approach going to succeed by containing the less positive stories or is it a serious threat to the holistic nature of social media?
Picture courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/beachball2007/ with our thanks