Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where Customer Satisfaction Goes To Die

Recently, I was engaged in a conversation with some friends about customer service and some of our recent experiences. As is natural, the stories quickly deteriorated into laughable displays of everything customer service should not be. Story begat story about how a simple customer service issue quickly became a quagmire of bad systems, bad decisions, red tape, and rude customer service reps. Each story was rewarded with painful laughter, shaking of heads, and a general disbelief that anyone would ever believe calling customer service can ever be considered a good idea.

After nearly doubling over in pain from laughter about some of the experiences, I decided it was time to reverse the fields and tell a story about a good customer service experience that I had. I recounted the story about quickly reaching a human being to talk to rather than a lengthy, hierarchical phone menu. The person I dealt with spoke perfect English and I later learned that she lived and worked in Texas. When I described my issue, this person asked me a few intelligent, probing questions and then began to walk me through to a very satisfactory solution. I was actually pleased with the experience and told my friends the specifics of what worked for me and how it impacted my view of the entire company. This company, which I hadn’t given a lot of thought to before, suddenly took on a positive light for me, and made me think well of the entire organization.

My story was followed by another story from one of the listeners about an experience he had with a very small company that took exceptionally good care of him. He remarked how the positive interaction had impacted him and how, as the result of this experience, he had sent several of his friends to this same company to have work done. In this particular case, he had not been dealing with a customer service rep but just one of the employees of the company.

The simple truth is that each time one of our employees touches one of our customers it creates an impression of the company that has long term implications. When our experience with a member of the company is good, we walk away with a favorable impression. When our experience is bad or lacking in any way, it impacts us negatively, often giving us pause before using that product or service again.

There are certainly a number of factors that impact the way your employees or your Customer Service Reps treat your customers. Part of the issue is training. Have the employees been properly trained on handling complaints? Do they know how to disarm aggressive callers? Are they competent on the systems that they use to find answers quickly and efficiently?

Another key issue for Customer Service Reps is attitude. Do they honestly and sincerely believe it is their job to make the customer happy? Or, are they focused on handling calls within the 2 minute and 37 second guideline that they have been given? How do you go about instilling a positive attitude in the people who, after your sales team, have the most direct customer contact day after day.

I always find it somewhat ironic that “Customer Service” reps are often the lowest paid employees of an organization, receive the most training, and have the highest turnover. Yet these same employees are the ones who are talking directly to our customers. They have intimate contact with people who will likely decide, based on these interactions, whether they will ever buy from us again. Why is it that the people who come in direct contact with our customers are not the highest paid employees?

As you think about your customers and your desire to build your revenues and create long term customers, consider the impact that your Customer Service Organization has on your business. And then ask yourself these simple questions:

Is my Customer Service Organization structured and compensated like they are the key to long term customer satisfaction? Or have I simply created a cost center where customer satisfaction goes to die?

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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