How to build a great customer service system

What is customer service?

Customer service is a touchpoint with your customer, it usually means they have an issue and need to help. It’s an opportunity to excel and enhance the customers opinion of your business (or alienate them altogether if your staff don’t have good people skills!)

From a business point of view it is an opportunity to gather information on how your product or service is used by your customers and to get data on the issues they have. Customer service needs to be closer to the marketing department than to technology. However, the technology department is a supplier to customer services while marketing is a consumer of customer service data.

But never, ever forget it is CUSTOMER service!

A while back I read an article about why some high street shops offer ‘no quibble’ refunds up to 30 days after purchase. That may seem like a guaranteed loss at first glance, but the research shows that most people will spend the refund PLUS an extra 20%. So it’s self-funding and not a cost – with the additional benefit that it generates customer loyalty now they know they can buy with confidence knowing they can always get a refund!

Your customer service system needs to be designed to serve your customer and respond to their needs. It’s essential that everyone who is customer-facing knows how to deliver customer satisfaction in a wide range of situations.

A lot of companies now include a satisfaction survey at the end of a call, asking the customer to rate the service they have received commonly with a value between 1 and 10. It is unusual for this to give accurate results, many people will not take the survey, they see it as a service to you and if not satisfied might simply refuse to co-operate. Others just want to get it over as soon as possible.

If your survey is personal, calling back to check that the customer is happy with the service is essential. You can tell a lot from the tone of an answer that you won’t get from an automated survey. This also gives an opportunity to repair any negative views with further assistance.

It may seem as though technology has little to do with customer service, but there are plenty of ways that automation can remove some of the ‘drudge’ tasks, leaving your staff free to focus on the essential human interface. The secret is to know what can be automated and what absolutely should not be.

Customer Service can be tough, dealing with complaints is not always pleasant. There are various ways to mitigate this, from spreading the responsibility for customer service amongst more members of the team to giving your people the tools and training to support your customers effectively.

The secret of world-class customer service is to teach your staff that every customer is valuable and their needs are the whole reason the organisation is in business.  Being interested in the customer first and foremost will ensure your company’s focus is where the money is!