Five Ways to Poise Customer Service for the Future

Five Ways to Poise Customer Service for the Future

It’s Monday and the first day of Customer Service Week. Let’s begin by setting goals for a long-term strategy to make sure that customer service is one of your company’s competitive differentiators.

I think it’s a fair estimate that a typical customer service representative handles more than 10,000 calls a year. That’s 10,000 interactions, 10,000 opportunities to positively influence the customers’ loyalty toward the brand and the company. There is no other department so uniquely positioned to achieve this goal. The Customer Service Department must take its place on the C Suite level to have the greatest impact.

Here are five ways Customer Service can demonstrate its value and be a top rung in the organization’s ladder.

  1. Turnover in Customer Service is extremely high. According to Forrester’s analyst, Kate Leggett, having less than a 20 percent turnover for call centers is considered good, with some experiencing over 100 percent. As issues become more complicated and communication instantaneous, organizations must have agents who are competent and well trained with comprehensive information about your company’s products and services.  By definition, this requires longevity.  Representatives should be appreciated and compensated for their expertise. It’s important to include representatives in the decision making process.  They are an integral part of the bottom line profitability.
  2. Stakeholders are critical to Customer Service.  Many departments within a company rely on Customer Service to support them with information not easily obtained otherwise. Consider getting feedback from stakeholders to assess their satisfaction levels. Discover additional services that Customer Service can provide to stakeholders to further support their functions. This will result in additional exposure and help secure supplemental budgets for personnel, training and technology.
  3. Customers demand a personalized experience. There are new innovations in technology almost daily and multiple products and services from which to choose. Delivering a unique customer experience becomes even more crucial.  Hiring customer service agents with specific skill sets and providing ongoing training is mandatory.  The customer service representative must have the necessary tools to accommodate an individual’s specific needs and requirements.
  4. Executives need to walk the talk. Posting letters from C-Level executives highlighting the importance of Customer Service doesn’t mean anything.  Company executives should spend at least a half of a day a year responding to telephone and email inquiries. Feedback should be provided about what they learned from the experience and the processes.  Sending wave files of selected calls won’t achieve the same goal.
  5. It’s more than just putting an empty chair in your meetings. Jeff Bezos, from Amazon, placed an empty chair at all meetings; that represented the ”customer.”  This was to keep in the forefront that the customer is central and what would they think of any new ideas suggested.  But is that sufficient?  The person or team in charge of Customer Service should also be in those meetings. That department has the direct connection to the customer. An empty chair can’t talk. Customer Service has its finger on the pulse of what customers want.

Bottom line:  Customer Service is responsible for customers, a company’s most important asset.  Let’s celebrate Customer Service Week by acknowledging both the customer and those who represent them and make sure we give representatives the tools, authority an recognition they well deserve.

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