The customer is always right – agree or disagree? As with many theories in life, there are many different schools of thought. My school of thought is – prevention is better than cure. Let’s not even allow ourselves to enter a situation where the customer gets to be right or wrong; by first focusing on ourselves and our way of handling customers; aka futureproofing your customer service.
What do I mean by that? Now, customers could be upset by all sorts of things, from being unhappy with the product to bad user interface to subpar customer service… We should already have solutions in place for all of these predictable issues:
Not happy with our product? I’m sorry to hear that, here is a full refund. Also, could you tell us why you are not satisfied with the product?
Bad user interface? I’m sorry that our website/app made you frustrated, we will work on providing you with a more user friendly experience. What would you like us to improve on?
Awful service? I am sorry to hear that you had an unpleasant experience with us. Please let us know how we can help you feel better about our service.
The Customer/User Experience field is a HUGE one – from consumer behavior research to user interface design to adding value to your customer’s unique experience. Today, I would like to focus specifically on Customer Service.
In my About page, I mentioned that “Globally speaking, there is a need for personalized customer interaction, and a focus on enhancing the unique user experience.”
One easy way to do this is to offer your customers an impeccable customer service. I shouldn’t have to explain why this is important. With the internet and globalization, your customer has plenty of options to choose from, so why should they choose you? Because you have shown that you actually CARE about them. That their thoughts and feedback matters. That they are not just a nameless number to boost your annual sales.
Have you ever called a company to complain about their product/service or ask for help related to their product/service, and walked away with a warm fuzzy feeling? Or did you walk away feeling unsatisfied and even more unhappy? Or worse, did you hang up the phone feeling like it was all a waste of time, and feel more frustrated than ever?
I have personally experienced all of the above, as I’m sure you have. After some thought, I realized there are a number of reasons we were unhappy with the customer service we received:
- 1. Our issue wasn’t resolved and all we got was
- We can’t help with that, sorry (basically means, you’re on your own there)
- There is nothing we can do about this matter (so why did I call you then?)
- 2. Lack of follow up to original issue
- e.g. This is the third time I’ve called about the same problem and no one has gotten back to me
- 3. Something we were promised by the company didn’t happen
- e.g. We will send you a new product to make up for the faulty one you currently have (it’s been a month, where is that replacement product?)
- e.g. Our customer service helpline is available 24/7 (rings them at 11pm on a Monday to hear that the 24/7 service is only available from Tuesday to Sunday)
- 4. Rude or indifferent staff
- 5. We are having a bad day and this customer support person is not helping
How to get around the above…
- Training – product, and empathy
Make training your staff a priority. Proper training helps prepare them for the problems they may encounter when dealing with customers, and the appropriate ways to handle these situations.
Training MUST include Product training, so that staff are familiar with the product they will be helping customers with. I am usually able to tell when someone on the other end of the line isn’t knowledgeable about the product they are supposed to be selling.
Empathy training is also crucial, as it is key to show your customers that you care, and that you value their business. Show some compassion for the people who support your business! Without customers, you don’t have a business. This does not mean that customers are always wright (wrong + right), it just means that customers are important.
If your staff are well-trained, you should have no qualms about giving them a certain level of autonomy so that they can go above and beyond for the customers. A powerless employee makes me feel powerless and raises doubts about their ability to help me with the problem I have.
- A system
Provide employees with a detailed overview of “who does what, where” within the company, so they know where to direct customers to, or at least make sure that feedback/customer issues are passed on to the correct team.
- Company culture
Keep your staff happy. When they feel that they’re working for a company that values them and their contributions individually, it will show in their work. They will be proud to work for you, and take pride in their responsibilities at work. In turn, customers will pick up on their happiness and subconsciously associate good vibes with your business. Overworked and disgruntled employees are painfully obvious to me, which in turn makes me think twice before making a purchase with the company.
There you have it. Let’s work towards a world of AWESOME! Customer Service. Let me know your thoughts!