Customer Service is one of the most important functions in any company. That is where you get the reality check on how good the products and services your company provides really are. That’s the central theme of an article in the April Newsletter from FreePint. If you don’t read the FreePint monthly newsletter, I would highly recommend it. This article is entitled, “Tough Love: Excelling at Customer Service Is Not Just One Big Happy-Clappy Hugfest“, and it’s written by Robbie Frazer of Prenax.
It’s an excellent read, but a short quote will give you one of the themes:
Customer service was all about being warm and fuzzy, peopled by friendly types who wore distressed jeans at client meetings and drank carrot juice for breakfast.
That’s the storybook idea of customer service, and it doesn’t work. Sometimes, treating your customers right hurts.
My point is that there are rock-solid reasons why a company should champion its people, really care about its customers and create a culture where customer service is central to everything. And those reasons are not all joss sticks and dungarees, but hard business motives that sometimes need very tough decisions to be made: to create this service culture where people take pride in their customer relations and generally seem to be enjoying work takes some effort.
Frazer also gets into the topic of the oh-so common tendency of trying to cut costs on customer service. That reminded me of what the old farmer said about his mule. “I was teaching my mule to live on less and less food. He’d just about learned the trick when he upped and died.”
In this Internet age, the customer is even more in control than ever. Some companies realize that and are giving better service. It’s a way of developing a competitive advantage since the majority of companies are into the cost-cutting mode. Surprisingly some of the worst at providing customer service are the telephone companies. Just think of your own experience. Having to key in your account number and then repeat it to a human agent is all too common. They should be experts in handling voice communications.
Luckily help is now available. Intelligent Voice Response (IVR) from companies like Crimsonet can handle your call as well as the best-trained customer service representative. As it happens, it’s cheaper as well but the main driver will certainly be the improved customer service that results. It’s so much better than the (un)Intelligent Voice Response that some people encounter.