Making Customer Service Effective in the Digital Age

April 2, 2019 By rahul

Making Customer Service Effective in the Digital Age

What is Customer Service?

Customer service is an elaborate and interactive process of understanding a customer and fulfilment of his needs as per the company’s resources, capacity and capability for the product sold or service delivered. In this context, the customer’s expectation starts from the time he has purchased the product or subscribed or hired the services. Therefore, customer service is an end-to-end process which begins from the time of sale till the end of life cycle of a product or the service or its usability to the customer. Thus, this concept originates with the customer and ends with the customer.

Synonyms of customer service: customer support, helpdesk, service centre, customer care, troubleshooting team, client service, after sales service, customer helpline.

Customer service is a part and parcel of every organization. For any company to sustain and grow, their focus and efforts have to be channelized towards creation of good customer service team.

Good customer service should aim towards enabling the following:
– Long-time Customer retention
– Loyalty towards Company’s products and services
– This in turn should build a customer’s trust toward the brand
– Enhancing product effectiveness and its value among the competitors
– Translating to higher sales thereby impacting overall revenues positively (due to same customer buying products or services repeatedly or recommending them to his family and friends)
– Resulting in Company saving its cost of customer acquisition on account of customer churn (which is almost 5 times more expensive)
– Strengthening a positive word of mouth and increasing Company’s goodwill and equity
– Leading to less expenditure on advertising, promotion and marketing activities

So, all these efforts will ultimately lead to company’s prosperity and increased market share which is beneficial for its employees and vendors and its longevity.

Nevertheless, an unhappy customer is an opportunity and the company should never lose out on insightful experience through the customer’s feedback to analyse the root cause of the problem that led to poor customer experience. Further, the company should invest time in reviewing their current working mechanism, getting into process reorientation, improving their product or service, it’s features or offers, grooming and training the staff or bridging any gaps that exist as per the customer inputs.

Customer Service Representative, his qualities and the different channels:
Customer service representatives (cse) are the actual brand ambassador for any company since a customer interacts with them on phone, through on-line chat, on company’s website or portal, on e-mail, social media and on-line forums, face to face interaction at service center.

A CSE should therefore:
– Speak to the customer politely
– Listen to him
– Give him respect
– Understand his need or concern
– Empathise
– Finally, most importantly, provide solution or an alternative as per his problem or requirement.

Being polite and humble without resolving customer’s query won’t help. Similarly, giving solution but in a rude tone will also back fire. It’s a viscous circle of expectations. Customer wants everything – politeness, empathy and solution. And he is right as he has paid for the product or the service. Customer is always right and is the king.

A Company has to:
– Keep their CSE motivated.
– They should be trained well in product and soft skills
– They should be able to communicate well with the customer
– Have patience, take ownership and work towards providing resolution to the customer.

Every organization contributes in some way or the other by working for its customers – it could be a B to B (Business) model or a B to C (Customer) model. In the long run, to accomplish its goals, every organization should align customer centricity to its vision and organizational strategy. This is an aspect no Company can afford to miss even a PSU or a Government organization.

Guide to great customer service is extremely simple:
– Remember, it is important to build a good rapport or connect with the customer
– Have qualitative interactions with him
– An intent to solve his problem no matter what.
– Smile while talking to the customer.
– Acknowledge the fact that most of the customers prefer human interaction more than communicating with machines. So, treat the customer the way you would like a service provider to treat you.

Different industries could have different levels of customer engagement as per their business and could have different ways to assess or measure their customer satisfaction.

Customer needs could be different for retail industry with regards to telecom, utilities, logistics, financial, outsourcing, government, healthcare, media, manufacturing, IT, real estate, service industry and so on.

Background of Customer Service: The concept of customer service is as old as early 1800s and it all started with the industrial revolution where products were designed and manufactured as per customer’s needs. However, since then, as we have noticed, customer’s behaviour has been dynamic, unpredictable and influenced by numerous factors, that’s why it is never consistent and is changing even faster than a stock market. Dealing with customers is challenging most of the time as it is like solving a jig saw puzzle every time.

Problems faced in Customer Service due to:
1. Limited authority with each service channel
2. Communication barrier between the customer and the CSE
3. Resolution being awaited from the concerned person/ team
4. Every customer’s problem is unique and expectations could vary to a different degree
5. Less staff available to cater to customers (due to leave, absenteeism, attrition) leading to high pressure
6. Technical or unknown issue (with no timelines or alternative available)
7. Company policy that acts as a hindrance sometimes
8. Lack of knowledge or skill
9. Customer reluctance to accept a resolution
10. Competition leading to higher expectations

How do we gauge effectiveness of customer service?
1. On-line surveys (as part of CSAT tool) as a part of buying a product (mostly asking to rate customer’s experience on E-commerce websites). CSAT is Customer Satisfaction.
2. Surveys at IVR (Interactive Voice Response) as part of CSAT tool
3. Mystery Shopping by posing as a customer
4. Live and remote monitoring of customer interactions (random sampling) and evaluating the quality of each interaction
5. Feedback calls, SMS, e-mails or IVR calls made to the customers to confirm if their query / concern was resolved or not
6. Analysing and taking action basis customer feedback on Website, Social media, Customer Portal
7. Assessing customer’s behaviour towards the brand, its products and services by applying Business Intelligence, Data analytics, Search Engine Optimization and other techniques.

What is CSAT?
Customer Satisfaction Survey is a powerful tool shared by the Service provider with the customer after he has had an interaction with the Customer service representative to rate his experience along with rating on service related parameters including resolution of his problem. This tool is a Voice of Customer that provides an insight on customer’s experience, whether it was as per his expectations and anything that was lacking or could have been done better. For most of the companies, CSAT is linked to the performance ratings of the employees and it impacts their annual bonus and increments. Why not CSAT rating impact everyone in the organization as every employee is expected to do his bit that contributes or adds value to customer’s experience? Thought to ponder.

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