Cockle-Warming Customer Service in Cold Hard Times

Customer service is a funny thing. We all know when we’ve received a poor version of it, and indeed, when that happens, we tend to go away and tell everyone we know all about it. Oh, and lots of strangers in cyberspace as well.

Did you know that in a recent survey* one person in seven said they’d use social media sites to express their annoyance over bad service? It was even greater in the high spending 25-44 age group. Ouch. Well worth checking your Twitter hashtag or popping your company name in Google from time to time, then.

In contrast we barely notice good customer service – and neither should we. ‘Good’ customer service should be as normal as the regular changing of the traffic lights and the carrier bag that safely bears the weight of your shopping. There’s nothing to comment about so long as it’s ticking along, performing its basic function.

And ‘normal’, ‘good’ customer service is what, exactly? Customers tell us that at the very minimum it should be:

  • The product or service they want
  • Available at the right price
  • From the right place
  • At the right time
  • Through the right channels.

Good. Fine. No alarms and no surprises. It isn’t going to get your customers Tweeting with delight and recounting the experience over coffee with their colleagues, but at least you’re doing it basically right.

But what if you want to give your customers something more… a buzz, a positive lift, an interaction that leaves them smiling long after they’ve left your premises or put down the phone? A beautiful, flag-waving icon of spectacular customer service that gets them name checking you on Facebook, recounting the experience by the water cooler – and sending new customers to you?

That will always be 100% down to the people that represent your brand. And to deliver that, your brand representatives are going to have to believe in what they do as much you do, be highly motivated to become the best they can be, and be able to engage intelligently with your customers on a human level. It’s the magic recipe: efficient professionalism delivered with a warmth of personality that reaches the cockles of your customer’s heart. You can’t beat it.

In these times of tightening belts, cutbacks and increasingly stiff competition, your people will be the differentiator between ‘good’ customer service and the kind that leaves people going ‘WOW!’ So please don’t scrimp on supporting your people with their professional development – your customer service is way too important to leave to chance. If you are not delivering cockle-warming customer service, you can bet someone else will be.

*Survey by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, published in Management Today 01/03/12

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