There have been an increasing number of high profile, social media-inflamed customer service failures. While these failures produce astonishment and some amusement for bystanders, it’s time that all companies look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are set up to be the next joke.
Providing great customer service requires companies to build an ecosystem where customer happiness can thrive. This begins with hiring great people, then providing the business process, tools and technology for great people to excel. Providing great customer service also requires an understanding of the psychology of customers. This list of the “10 Things Customers Expect,” was given to me in a class called Managing Service Operations, taught by Donald Eisenstein at the University of Chicago. I am not sure where he got the list, but I have kept it with me as a consultant, as a pre-sales solution architect helping companies plan Service Cloud implementations, and now as a Marketer.
1. Reliability: Consistency of performance. This means consistency from customer service representatives, but also consistency in the technology your customers interact with. The website, mobile applications, and in-person service must all say the same things and react the same way.
2. Responsiveness: Provide timely and willing service. This has been traditionally the KPI most used by customer service managers, and still should be a main focus. Make sure clear service level agreements are set up along with time-based escalations.
3. Competence: Have the required skills and knowledge. Since nobody can know everything all the time, setting up a proper Knowledge Management system is essential. Training should not be seen as something that happens when a new employee starts, but a continual process.
4. Access: Customers have easy contact with the company. Customers expect their problems to be solved using the medium they are most comfortable with, but for companies using Salesforce, Live Agent is a great way to ensure access.
5. Courtesy: Politeness, respect, friendliness, consideration. All these are personality traits customer service people should embody.
6. Communication: Explain the service; keep informed in a clear manner. In a customer service system, attention should be paid to things like call scripts and email templates, to make sure they are understandable.
7. Credibility: All representatives need to be trustworthy, honest, and believable. Vendors need to be open about mistakes, and acknowledge when things have gone awry. Once credibility is lost, it is hard to ever regain it.
8. Security: This includes confidentiality and risk mitigation. It is important for vendors to take a customer’s need for security seriously. Set up strong data policies and let customers know about your team’s efforts for security and confidentiality and their behalf.
9. Understanding/Knowing: Individualized attention, specific requirements. As we drive for efficiency in our customer service systems, it’s easy to forget that all customers are unique. Systems need to retain key data about customers that allows representatives to treat customers with understanding.
10. Tangibles: Appearance, good facilities and equipment. This includes having attractive, modern interfaces for customers in all computer systems.
Keeping these 10 Expectations in mind when building your customer service system will not only help prevent an embarrassing disaster, but will build a loyal customer base.