Once upon a time, a customer service representative was a specific role in a company, behind a desk or answering a phone.
Now every interaction your employees have with customers (potential, current, and former) is an opportunity to make an impression on behalf of your company. Every touchpoint with every customer makes a difference, and these touchpoint are rarely neutral.
“Managers, executives, and business owners need to remember that customers will tell 10 to 12 other people about remarkably poor customer service and only 3 or 4 people about remarkably excellent customer service. So, it is important to be clear about the service level you want – and critically important to be crystal clear about the type of service you don’t want.”
– Joseph Sefcik, President, Employment Technologies
Customer service has everything to do with loyalty.
Summarizing his company’s study in Forbes Magazine, author and speaker Shep Hyken reports, “We asked respondents about their willingness to switch brands or companies for better customer service. Only 3.8% said they were unwilling – meaning that 96.2% of customers are willing on some level to switch if they think they’ll have a better experience elsewhere.”
Are you prepared to lose 96.2% of customers?
No one is, but few of us have given much thought to a strategic approach to customer service. We say, “Hire a people person.” We tell our employees, “Be nice to the customers.” But these are not strategies!
JetBlue is a company with a clear customer service strategy. Take Twitter responses, for example. JetBlue personnel are quick to respond to both mentions and direct messages. Even if they cannot immediately solve the problem, they keep customers apprised of the situation and next steps. Additional strategies in this case include immediacy; Jet Blue values quick response. And they have a plan in place for crises. If there is a communication glitch or weather incident, then they maintain a quick response time by temporarily “re-routing” other personnel to Twitter responses.
The other day, I discovered my internet speed was slow. This was concerning, and admittedly a bit frustrating, because in these work-from-home-days, we all rely on good connection for Zoom and Teams meetings. I placed a call to my internet provider. My expectations were low. It took a couple of calls, but eventually I was scheduled for a service call.
Here’s where the good customer service part kicks in. I received text messages confirming my appointment time. I received a text when the technician was in my neighborhood. Bob, the technician who came to my door, introduced himself, explained the problem and the two step solution. He also gave me his cell phone number so I could avoid calling, in his words, “the big office.” I was now directly in touch with Bob. Several days later when the final fix was accomplished, Bob followed up by ringing my doorbell to let me know the permanent repair was complete. Bob’s number is still in my Contacts, because I believe I can trust Bob if something ever goes wrong again.
Did Bob have a strategy? He sure did:
CULTURE: he liked his job and displayed confidence and courtesy as he went about doing it.
CONNECTION: he made a direct connection with his client, and kept that client updated.
CONTACT: he provided a way for the client to connect with him directly, allowing the client to avoid the automated menu of the parent company.
COMPLETION: Bob did the work in a timely fashion, and let the client know when the work was completed.
Corporate Executive Board conducted a frontline workforce fit and engagement survey to determine the types of Customer Service Representatives in the industry. Harvard Business Review published that report visually, and reported seven types of reps.
Bob was an empathizer (enjoys solving others’ problems, seeks to understand behaviors and motives, listens sympathetically). He understood the importance of my internet service to my work, and made it possible for me to contact him directly to alleviate my concern. And while Bob appeared to have a personal strategy, I’m not sure the larger company that employed him did. They could learn a few things from Bob!
What type of customer service strategy does your company employ? Do you recognize your frontline employees among the seven types?
Next time we’ll talk about building a strategy, and how important satisfied employees are to executing that strategy.
For more information about creating a winning customer service strategy, contact us here or call 888.332.0648.