We need to talk about customer service. The way we do things has changed and over the last couple of years reports are showing that customer satisfaction levels have dropped, with customer service becoming less of a priority, so much so that we are seeing businesses selling it as a USP, or at an additional cost.
I started my career in customer services and the messages I learned there still resonate with me every day. Things like:
“The customer is always right.”
“Don’t overpromise. Don’t underdeliver.”
“Get back to the customer as quickly as humanly possible.”
These were some of the basics.
Many of these are old fashioned now and require alternative perspectives because they are no longer fit for purpose. This is true particularly in an automated world, with rafts of instant data underpinning everything, especially when we insist as consumers on interacting with devices over people so much.
The pandemic, the crisis in Ukraine, the great resignation and the prospect of potential recession has been leading to a shift in employer/employee power and as a result, we are seeing the further demise of customer service. In the last few years many are being expected to tolerate experiences that what would historically have been described as “unacceptable” and “excuses,” hearing statements such as, “sorry we are short staffed,” “it’s Covid,” or “sorry we can’t do that today.”
And that’s just with the human interactions that are possible. As the world adapts to change and quickens its pace, automation is king. But with it comes a loss of the customer service experience – after all, it’s difficult to complain to a till, a tablet or a chatbot.
It’s complex and many of the excuses do have genuine underlying reasons driving them. However, a combination of variables has broken the system and as consumers, we are either accepting it, or getting frustrated by it.
So what can we do?
We need a new model for customer service that removes excuses, plugs back in customer rights, plugs back in ownership, and ensures that the reduced human interactions we have are maximised and focused on creating the best experience possible.
Let’s focus on being kind, let’s focus on being helpful, let’s focus on taking ownership and making the customer journey special and not an exclusive element for the privileged. Let’s train, coach and develop our people to be the best they can be, to create meaningful interactions and make peoples days. After all, your best customers are in fact your own people!
Let’s remember – these values start from the top and if we’re going to commit to this in customer service, let’s remember that the same is true in our dealings as managers and leaders. The best leaders are those who are present in the modern world and equipped with the skills and characteristics to not only lead through change, but personally adapt and remain resilient in the face of change.
In the new world there is no book written that tackles customer service, we are the authors writing the book, but together we can take what worked brilliantly historically and modernise it for tomorrow’s needs. If you would like to speak to us about how to support your people and leaders to perform at their best and create a first class customer experience – internally and externally – give us a call on 01491 414010, or complete the form below.