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Customer service – You cannot be without it in an economic downturn


Businesses need to be more aware than ever that customer service is vital if they are to retain and attract clients, so it never ceases to amaze me that many still get it wrong. I blogged recently about my experience in a department store: when I asked an assistant if they stocked other sizes of a dress her response was little more than “we might have” with no offer to help. Since then, I have come across numerous other examples of poor customer service, one of which I will share here. A friend whose father had died wrote to inform a tour operator, with which he had been due to travel, of his death. One of their staff rang to confirm cancellation details and asked to speak to him! With the economic downturn, customer service is ever more important, as consumers become increasingly selective as to where and how they spend their money. When companies run into problems the staff will become concerned. They’ll start to keep an eye open for other jobs and they will become de-motivated. The first thing to suffer? Yes it's the customer service. So here are some tips for getting the most of the staff: Take advantage of business being a little quieter to carry out customer service training. Remind staff to listen carefully to customers when they visit or call Make sure customer calls are dealt with thoroughly even – in fact especially – if they have a complaint Explain to staff why customer relations, and their role within that, are so important Sometimes just small tweaks in customer service delivery can make all the difference. Consider this scenario: a well-known mortgage lender was about to close all its high street branches and the day this news was announced what did the manager of one do? Did she sit about, worrying about her own job, waiting for the calls from worried customers? No, she got on the phone and reassured them that their current or pending mortgages would be safe. That was real customer service.

2 Responses

  1. Customer service
    I’ve written about my own poor customer experience with the carphone warehouse on my blog:

    Why can’t organisations get it right ? Do they hire people without a modicum of customer care in their DNA ? I’m sure that there are customer facing staff who just don’t want to be there, they checked out a long time ago. First Direct hire for attitude they figure they can train in the technical stuff but training in a new attitude is a lot tougher and unlikely to succeed.

    Leaving recruitment out of the equation for now, i’m sure that the CEOs of these organisations don’t realise what sort of an experience they are putting their customers through. A customer is 10 times more likely to publicise a poor experience than a good one and given that it cost nine times more to acquire a new customer shouldn’t they be wanting to keep existing customers ?

    I’ll keep this short, mystery shop your organisations goods and services and become a customer experience champion. This will give you an insight into what really goes on. Armed with this new insight you can enlighten the “old guard” (as Colin Shaw calls them in his book ” the DNA of customer Experience”) and be able to show them that investing in customers is the right thing to do and ensures the future sustainability of the business.

  2. Couldn’t agree more…
    I find myself staggered with the amount of poor customer service experiences I have on an almost weekly basis.

    In an increasingly competitve market-place all businesses really need to understand that customer service is a key differentiatior – particularly where the service you offer and your pricing are very similar to those of your competitors.

    I run an IT and Business Skills training company, and having excellent customer service is key to us establishing good relationships with our clients. We make sure that we respond to all client enquiries quickly, courteously and as helpfully as possible – we consider these basic principles of good business, and it astounds me when other organisations manage to get it so wrong. Meeting your clients’ emotional needs (being friendly, offering help even when it hasn’t been asked for) is just as important as meeting their functional requirements.

    In fact we’re so passionate about it we put together a Customer Service Excellence training course to help our clients to do the same thing!

    Colin Welch
    Training Manager
    Silicon Beach Training

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