21 November 2012

Customer service: the cat and mouse game

Customer service: Do you play cat and mouse with your customers?

In all likelihood, when customers contact your customer service team, they will be searching for a straight answer to what is not necessarily an easy question. Most of the time customers will also know exactly what they are looking for: a result. From the company's point of view, there might be some hidding involved especially if they are not prepared to give what the customer demands, either out of policy or simply because they are not able to. Unfortunately this not a game and prolonging the uncertainty in the eyes of the customers, having them look everywhere in your company and making them work hard for the solution  is exactly what they do not want. Next time you take a look at your customer service design, it might worth establishing who is meant to do the running.

22 October 2012

Customer service: cutting it short?

cutting it short

Customer service: Are you Cutting it short?

In the field of customer service, the most important factor can be the unwritten contract with the customer. It is not so much about what is included in the small print to protect the interests of the company but more about the set of expectations and promises which have been sold to the customer. When it comes to crunch time, delivery to the customer must take into account the perceived value that has been portrayed and fulfil the company's share of the bargain accordingly. If there are ny discrepancies, customers will feel that they have been cut short and the overall customer service reputation of the company will deteriorate rapidly.

11 October 2012

Customer service bubble

customer service bubble

Customer service bubble - what is happening under the surface?

We have all witnessed unusual situations or even created experiences of our own where miraculously some bubbles appear and, we watch, puzzled, wondering what is happening under the surface. In the case of customer service, watching the situation develop is not good enough. As soon as a tell-tale sign is visible, in depth investigation must commence to understand what might be the root cause and could potentially lead your customer service resources to be wasted.

02 October 2012

Is your customer service at the heart of a virtuous circle?

customer service virtuous circle

Customer service virtuous circle

The growth of social media and viral propagation remind us everyday of the positives of a virtuous circle. Customer satisfaction is a natural source of endorsements, which in turn create further purchases, and increase customer loyalty whilst reducing the risk of post purchase dissonance. On the contrary below par customer service could be at the origin of a vicious circle where the company's reputation and future profits are at risk. So which curve is your customer service following? Beware, it might not be easy to determine at first sight...

17 September 2012

Customer service: are you trading on thin ice?

trading customer service

Is your company trading on thin ice?

Any company's approach to customer service must be solid. Whilst it might be tempting to go to market quickly, putting only limited care in assessing the environment might present some serious risks. If the customer fundamentals  have been misjudged, a sunny start to trading activities might quickly turn into a disaster scenario. So it might be wiser to proceed with caution and as soon as the first cracks appear, making it back to safer ground might well be the only option.

With our thanks to Katja Lucas for the picture

24 August 2012

Customer service balance

customer service balance

Customer service balance

A successful customer service delivery is made of many building blocks. A solid policy, firmly grounded, constitutes the cornerstone of the strategy. But it is not enough: adding more elements and finding the right balance is a necessity in the long run. Balancing the policy with innovation, initiative, the right level of human touch, a positive culture and some degree of creativity will make it all stick together. It should resist the test of time and be strong enough to sustain external challenges but when the time comes, one must be ready for the fact that it could crumble and one should be ready to rebuild it in a way which is appropriate for the current business environment.

09 August 2012

Olympics: Does your customer service deserve the gold medal?

Olympic motto

Olympic Motto and customer service:

If you wish to reach Customer Service Excellence why not simply adopt the Olympic Motto:

“Citius, Altius, Fortius” (1)

(1) Often translated as “Swifter, Higher, Stronger” 

31 July 2012

Customer service: should you blow your own trumpet?

blow your own trumpet
With the increasing emphasis on customer service, more and more companies claim that they offer a very good service, the very best service even. But is it wise to blow your own trumpet? Any service delivery hick-up could then lead to a severe back clash, with many customers using the high quality service expectations set by the company as an excuse for complaining, mocking the company and thereby damaging its reputation. An alternative course is to let the customers do the talking and use forums, social media platforms and the many other tools available to ensure that the positive feedback is noticed by many. So next time you are thinking about blowing your own trumpet, make sure you can last the distance.

06 July 2012

Will your customer service leave a long lasting impression?

customer service impression
Giving a good impression is the ambition of many companies and it is fair to say that with the investment in technology, social media and training much progress is being achieved across the board. The basis for competition has shifted though and with no immediate prospect of a sustained improvement in the economic environment, customer service's importance keeps growing. At the end of the day it is no longer enough to assess if your service performance was good enough. The key measure will be to what extent your customer service has left a long lasting impression and as a result existing customers will become promoters of your products and services

20 June 2012

Customer service rainmaker

customer service rainmaker
Should you want it or not, your company customer service performance is very likely to be a key determinant of its future success. Customer service as a rainmaker? Its impact can not be underestimated but should conditions deteriorate and bring a little rain, make sure that all your customer service efforts bring a little ray of sunshine to spectacular effect.

17 May 2012

Customer service is in the eye of the beholder

the eye of the beholder
Beauty has long been recognised to be in the eye of the beholder. Could the same be said about customer service? The ideal customer service standards have been established for many different services across all sectors but do we give customers enough choice? Do they have the ability to put emphasis on certain element of the service and totally ignore others. Technological developments enable more and more refined analysis of customers, encouraging them at best and, directing them in the worst cases, towards purchases that they did not want to make in the first place. Could a totally reverse approached be engineered, the blank canvass. Or will it prove too difficult for customers to decide what they want? After all, the canon of beauty is often determined by the media so why shouldn't the canon of customer service be determined by business executives?

12 April 2012

Fishy customer service

fish customer service

What is the link between a fish and customer service

Better hope that there are none. Unless you operate in the fish industry, it is better to avoid fishy customer service practices. There are no clear universal pointers as to what 'fishy' means but it could include known sub-standard operations, unfair practices, insufficient documentation, misleading advertising and many more horrible items that we can not quote in a blog dedicated to good customer service. Next time you review your customer service, someone should explicitly be tasked with the  objective to ensure that there is nothing fishy going on.

27 February 2012

Customer service guide

customer service guide

Customer service guide

When designing a new customer service guide, executives could usefully draw parallels between customers finding their way in the market place and sailors navigating across unknown waters.  More often than not, difficulties can be avoided by learning from the experience of others who have just followed the same path. The key to success is to capture that experience and make judicious use of all modern technologies and tools to guide customers through the buying process. Sailors made good use of lighthouses and hand-drawn maps, what customer service guide and tools are you making available to your customers?

31 January 2012

Customer watch

customer service watch
At all times, it is crucial that your customer watch is in place. If your customers are in need of simple advice or find themselves in serious difficulty, you should be at hand, ready to provide immediate assistance. This will prevent a situation from deteriorating and causing irreparable damage. If successful, a rapid intervention will contribute to the establishment of a real bond which could last a lifetime. So, who is watching over your customers right now?

16 January 2012

Customer service innovation

customer service innovation

Customer service innovation 

Innovation in customer service has become increasingly valuable as a way to differentiate from the competition and avoid an all-out price war. But, which is the best way to innovate? The challenge for companies is to determine to what extent the service innovations should be radical and if they are not a rehashed copy of what someone has done before, are they achievable? To succeed management needs to be daring yet make sure that every element has been perfectly assessed and calculated so that the newly built process stays in place for many years to come and delivers the best results. Are you brave enough to have a go?

Recent examples of customer service innovation:

- publish in real time the expected response time of customer service agents on Twitter (innovation by KLM - 2013)
- delivery of products with 30 minutes of order using un-manned flying drones (innovation by Amazon - pilot 2013)
- enabling shoppers to see a season catwalk show through live streaming and to order personalised versions of clothes and handbags within minutes of seeing them (innovation by Burberry - 2013)

03 January 2012

Customer service: take the helicopter view

customer service helicopter view
Your understanding of the environment where your company offers its business services will be crucial in determining the success of your operation. What are the constraints?