Every one of us have these hideous experiences weekly, if not daily: Trying to get a person on the phone is impossible. We get so frustrated when we are put on hold, told to call back later, or our messages are just ignored. I booked a repair service for my home. They said they would call before coming to the house, or I could call them to get a more precise time the day of the appointment. Not true. There was no way to reach anyone. I was on hold for 35 minutes and gave up. These are not uncommon experiences for we consumers.
Conversely, if we hate it so much as consumers, why do we make it hard for our customers when we are the ones running the business? Flipping the equation from recipient to deliverer of bad customer service, how do we justify it? The most common themes are: we are too busy, it costs too much to provide manpower, or we simply don’t know how to handle the volume.
My company has conducted hundreds of double blind surveys of all size companies in efforts to determine what their opportunities for competitive advantage may be. Regardless of industry, one of the top values most customers demand in today’s environment is “responsiveness”. Responsiveness can take many forms. Answer the darn phone for starters, give me a person, resolve my issue quickly, send me your best technician, engineer, etc., or at least, let me know you are working on it.
Many companies boast that “we have a live person answer all calls”. That’s a terrific first step. But what happens next is what matters. Does the live person send the call to a voice mail box where it may get handled in short order, or, sit there for days? What kind of follow up is needed to ensure customers requests are handled in a timely manner?
When it comes to truly evaluating your company’s service, what kind of metrics do you have in place for the various forms of customer service demanded of your customers? Do you measure wait time? Response time? Availability of parts/people needed to fix an issue? Do you measure accuracy where it is demanded? Should you have a concierge line to handle critical issues?
Customer service is simply an umbrella title for all the expectations your customers have. By itself, it is just a cliché.
If you want to have a real competitive advantage, be sure your company responds quickly to the top concerns of your marketplace. This happens most effectively when it becomes a customer relevant measure in your company.
The service repair company I booked for my home repair clearly doesn’t measure or hold employees accountable for their response. As a result, they will never know why I canceled the appointment, will never recommend them, and perhaps tell others to stay away. You know the drill.