Killing your business with poor customer service?

Customer service
Think about it. What makes you like a company and what leaves you seething?  Sure, sometimes it's the quality of the product itself, but more often these days it's not the product, but the quality of service you get from the same company.

I love my gadgets and the price is often very comparable between stores. What sways my purchase decision is the customer experience that goes along with the purchase. I'll even go as far as saying I'll pay a little MORE for something from the retailer that believes in good service.

What is good service though?

I don't profess to be an expert on the subject, but in my mind it's mainly a warmth and desire to delight me as a customer. If I walk into an Incredible Connection, I don't expect the sales consultant to be knowledgeable on every single product, but I do expect him to be helpful. If he doesn't know anything about routers, instead of pretending to (and getting his facts wrong) or simply pointing to another colleague and saying "speak to him", a more positive experience would be "sir, my colleague over there is an expert on routers, let me take you to him").  It's those small moments of engagement that change a customer's perception of a brand.

Moment of truth
When I call a helpline and speak to an agent, he might be tired, bored and just running through the motions of reading a prepared script and vaguely trying and solve my problem. But to me, in that very moment, he represents the ENTIRE business. My entire perception of the company rests on his shoulders... it's whats called in organisational psychology the "moment of truth". If he's despondent and dreary, I don't just have a negative perception of him, I have a negative perception of the ENTIRE BRAND. Conversely, if he's attentive and knowledgeable, I'll be delighted as a customer. If this experience happens repetitively I'll even become a tacit champion of the brand, and make mention of the great service to friends and family. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth.

Let me use Vodacom as another example (I'm not picking on them, it's just based on a recent experience). I have very little signal in my home and a very helpful agent on the phone chatted to me about various solutions and said an engineer assigned to the suburb would get in touch. Whilst Vodacom did kindly resolve the issue by placing a booster in my home office, the dreariness and aloofness of the engineer who eventually phoned me to sort out the issue dampened my perception of the whole interaction with the company. Sure, I now have signal, but how did he leave me feeling about the brand? The engineer thought he was just in a technical field, but he got it so wrong. He's in customer service! In the 3 weeks of being assigned to me, he wouldn't acknowledge or reply to my emails, nor EVER answer his phone. BAM... a negative moment of truth with the brand.

How often do you phone a company and a dreary receptionist answers, and then doesn't even say a word when transferring you. The role of a receptionist is so vital in the customer's perception of an organisation, yet the training of this role is so often neglected.
Rude receptionist
A friend of mine experienced an exemplary example of great customer service recently when his Zodiac pool cleaner was playing up. The agent said to him something along the lines of: "Mr Silver, I'm sure you have more important things to do with your time than have to worry about your pool cleaner, so leave it in my hands. I will ensure a technician is there tomorrow and it will be working perfectly by the time you get home from work. What time would be suitable when someone is at the house?"

So what am I trying to say? If your staff member interacts with a customer in any way (even if they are not in sales or customer care), they ARE in customer service and you have placed the perception of your entire business in their hands.  It's time to create a more positive "moment of truth" for your customers. If you want to beat your competitor, it's not just about your product... it's about your service.

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