Why We Need A New Paradigm In The Field Of Customer Services

I just got back from my first of two trips abroad and what an amazing time I had. From the mountains of California to the deserts of Nevada, I just have to say the landscapes are just simply incredible and I got to see quite a bit over the nine days I was there. I drove 1500 miles in a Mercury Grand Marquis; hardly in style, but a cruise none the less! (It also explains why my ass is a bit numb!) πŸ˜†

As you’d expect, after getting back from a holiday, I had come back to lots of things that needed tending too including; my car battery which was flat. I called the rescue company, and as far as helplines go, they weren’t too bad in responding to my call but in general, customer services has gone completely down the proverbial toilet! Due a to mix up with my previous car, they nearly ended up charging me for the call out.

We need a new style of leadership when it comes to customer services. Everywhere I go now I rarely hear people say anything good about any customer service departments they deal with. Why do companies insist on making it so difficult? For profit margins? I can’t see those poor strategies doing anything other than damage profit margins so I’m not sure where that thinking arises from.

Here’s what I think needs to be done.

Automated Systems

The automated selection systems need to be completely abolished altogether. However if used, they need to be kept an absolute maximum of three options. As an example these 3 could be used: i) Sales; ii) Customers Services; iii) Technical Support. My bank have the right idea. As soon as you call them you get through to a person and they have the ability to deal with the majority of your queries.

If they can’t deal with it they pass it onto a specialist from the relevant department and they also explain the query to them before handing you over so you don’t have to explain yourself again. That is the best way of doing it. They don’t ask you to click through a billion options before being put through the same department which you would’ve got through to anyway.

Off-shoring

Off-shoring is probably the quickest way of saving money and pissing off your customers all in one swoop. Hey, I’m Indian and I struggle communicating the with the Indians! We’re only human and sometimes communicating your point to someone with a thick accent that doesn’t understand your query can be so frustrating; especially when you have to repeat yourself.

I’m not against off-shoring as a whole but you need to know that if you’re going to take that route that your customers aren’t exactly going to be jumping for joy. It takes years before you get used to it and years for the staff to get more accustomed to communicating with other people; something which is irrelevant if you have high turnover. I have colleagues over in India and it’s taken years for us to develop that rapport and ability to understand each other clearly.

Attitude

The adopted attitude of many of the reps I’ve spoken to over the last few years has been one of ‘lets just get them off the phone as quickly as possible’. I like to think of myself as a good customer and someone who, if given a good service, will respond accordingly. If however, I’m not treated like a human being then my first reaction is to rebel against them. If you want to elicit the best from people you have to know how to communicate properly.

The general state of the attitude of customer service staff I believe stems from one prime thing; poor leadership. If you have someone there who doesn’t lead well the reps will go on to do what they want and behave in ways to suit them. Put a good leader in place who knows how to elicit the best from people and that will filter down the chain of command and ultimately to the reps that you and I speak to over the phone.

Service

Lets take this word ‘Service’ past it’s superficial level and take it up a notch. We are all servants in one form or another. Service is a certainty in life. As it’s a given we then have to choose how we serve ourselves and the rest of humanity. (ultimately, in my opinion one and the same thing!) Whether you run your own blog, business, or you’re an employee you are serving your customers and that QoS (Quality of Service; pronounced ‘kwas’) experience will stay with people for the rest of their lives.

Having a deep rooted desire to truly serve comes from a good leader but from one other important ingredient. It comes from a deeper understanding of yourself and the lasting affect of your actions. Some people may not want a fun and pleasant transaction. They may just want a quick clean solution. If you can learn to pick up on these subtle nuances and better understand the needs of people and what people value the most, you’ve not only found the best way to serve through your vocation, but you’ve now also found a powerful skill to enrich your experience of life.

To Summarise

1. Get rid of these automated menu selection systems. They’re pointless and only cause the customers to get irate before they’ve even speak to a human being.

2. Put a good leader in place. Someone who knows how to get the best from people and someone who understands the needs of the both the business and customer concurrently.

3. Develop a deeper understanding of the word ‘service’. Take pride in the way you serve and set powerful goals to provide unparalleled levels of service.

21 Responses

  1. Amit ma’ man, I think you’re on to something.

    The part about offshoring, I read with a big grim on my face, Because a lot of it is done to here in Romania. I personally know some people who struggle with a certain foreign language, yet provide customer service by the phone to somebody on the other side of the globe, who is a native speaker of that language. Just saying thank you every 30 seconds doesn’t cut it.

    Eduard
    .-= Ideas With A Kick´s last blog ..Personal development ideas I can do without =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Eduard,

      Definitely a tough one to call. The model can work and in some places the speak 2nd languages very well but as a whole I think it’s not always a good way to go for the sake of saving a bit of money.

  2. Kavita says:

    I totally agree! I’ve had such bad expereinces as late (past year) First was with sky, then orange. My mum had the same problem. When you ask them to do sumthing, they claim they do not have the mechanisim to do it, as the “computer” won’r let them…..when did we put computers in the deciding seat!!!!! Seriously ticks me off! And seems nothing is being done about it, and when you try to call to complain, the number you call is charging you a premium number!!! So its kind of a kick up the butt AGAIN!
    Totally agree that the leadership and development and training of these companies need to be alot more refined! grrrrr! ;<

    • Amit Sodha says:

      LOL Kav sounds like you’ve had a tough time of it. My friend was telling me about another company today that have the right idea. Their automated selection system is flawless and they reps are pretty damn good too. It’s just a shame that big companies with plenty of resources don’t take the intiative to do anything about it.

  3. Oh, Amit, you didn’t live in some countries I lived in where customer service is really non-existent. Superficial customer service is always better than non existent one:) But on a serious note, I totally agree with everything you said, it’s about time we take the relationships with our customers to a deeper and more heart to heart level. They will remember and come back again and again.
    .-= Lana – Dreamfollowers Blog´s last blog ..Finding Your Life Purpose: Do You Know What You Stand For? =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      LOL Lana I do kind of have an idea of what you’re talking about. I do know of and have been to places where it doesn’t exist but in a developed nation like the UK it’s taking us back in time and I feel that we need to move forward. We are all human sharing this one small planet so why not make the interactions as such! πŸ™‚

  4. Baker says:

    This is an excellent well written post. Nice points here on customer service. I never really gave this topic much thought before. But this is well stated.

  5. Customer service is an area where I expect to see radical changes in the following year. Great analysis!
    .-= Oscar – freestyle mind´s last blog ..10,000 Euros/Month November Update =-.

  6. Call Centers in the Philippines says:

    An insightful and articulate post! Customer service is an integral part of our job and should not be seen as an extension of it. A companyÒ€ℒs most vital asset is its customers. Without them, we would not and could not exist in business. When you satisfy our customers, they not only help us grow by continuing to do business with you, but recommend you to friends and associates. -Jaime

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