July 30th, 2012
“I Take Customer Service Personal”
I take Customer Service Personal. That is the only way I take it. Anything short of a real live, intelligent and caring customer service rep (CSR) and I practically go into a convulsion. Am I expecting too much? Based on recent conversations with my own customers, I have found that I am not alone.
Customer service is best achieved on a personal basis. Companies that take people away from the phone and replace them with an automated customer service system are missing the mark. I don’t care how much money these companies think they are saving by having an automated CSR answering their phone, it is a mistake. In the end they are not improving their profits because they are losing sales. Call a company that has an automated CSR, and try navigating through the electronic maze. Do you feel your blood pressure rising as you throw away each minute of your life listening through a maze of options? Then call a company that cares enough to have a real person answer your call. The difference is huge! Those good old fashion words, “How can I help you today?” just never grow old.
The fact that you have a live person at the other end of the phone ready to listen to your problem will instantly put you at ease. But beware of the “humanoid CSRs.” Remember the movie, The Stepford Wives? Well, these are what I call “Stepford CSRs.” They possess flesh and bones and have blood pumping through their veins but they act according to a carefully rehearsed script and never deviate from what they were programmed to do. To me, they are even more frustrating and insulting than the automated CSR. You can easily spot them from the script that they are following almost to the letter. It doesn’t feel genuine. Discuss a problem with them that is even slightly outside of what they have been programmed to help you with and they just cannot handle the situation. You will then hear the words, “I am sorry but…” and then you know you have short circuited them. You are at the end of the line. The only hope left is to ask for a supervisor and to hope that you will get a real person equipped with the ability to listen and react to your situation. In the end, you will spend many minutes or even hours getting your problem resolved and no one can give you back those wasted hours of your life!
The very best companies take it one step further and not only hire and train real live breathing and thinking CSRs, but they also regionalize their CSRs so customers from specific regions are always connected to the same CSR. A valuable personal relationship is built in this manner between individual CSRs and specific customers. Customers serviced in this manner will have a hard time leaving you even if your price is higher, because of the equity that is established and built up between the customer and the CSR. Having personable, creative and intelligent CSR’s who can solve problems for customers and make their lives easier is one of the most valuable assets a company can have. Your customers will love you for it and they will have a very hard time ever leaving you.
And given this highly competitive marketplace, customer loyalty is one of the greatest assets a company can have these days.