Customer Service or Customer Experience
What was customer service like in the past and why has it changed?
What is Customer Service? Well, if you ask people today customer service is when I ask for something I get it. In the past Customer Service meant that the customer was always right. I believe 30 years ago the young people were trained when working at fast food restaurants how to treat customers and how to deal with unruly people. There are still some companies that provide excellent customer service however, it's not like it used to be.
Where did great customer service go? Well, to be honest the old saying is true "One bad apple spoils the whole bunch." When people realized that if they are always right and can get something for free then they will use it to their advantage and therefore customer service changed. I remember working for a company that said 30 minutes or less or your order was free. We rushed to deliver the customers order hot and safely, however we had drivers that abused the system by driving fast and passing lights causing accidents. We also had customers that did not answer their doors when we were there on time until after 30 minutes passed. Now that company no longer delivers orders with that guarantee. It's truly disheartening to think that a few people can spoil it for everyone else.
That is why I am writing this article. I am a stickler for excellent customer service. I have received awards from customers and my employer for over 20 years of providing excellent customer service even to those that may not seem to deserve excellent service. Now with social media so wide spread you would think companies would train their employees to provide better customer service. I cannot blame it solely on the employees or companies, because customers can also take advantage of a situation. That is why customer service and customer experience has suffered over the years.
What can we do to change the Customer Experience?
When I formally trained new hires or customer support teams I would ask them how would you feel if you were the person on the other line? They are frustrated because whatever services that they received is not delivered the way they envisioned it would. So why not make their dream come true? Why not be the hero or the genie in the bottle?
When a customer calls in they either need some assistance, want more information about products and services or have a complaint (legitimate or not). When you purchase an item or want to purchase an item from a company do you want the company to already assume that you are educated on the product and services they provide? I can almost guarantee you that majority of customers do not believe everything they read on the internet. There is so much information about one product on the internet it can become overwhelming at times, why not go to the source. I have realized that majority of companies believe that most people are educated in what they want to purchase but that is not true. The company is the source and therefore people still trust the company to educate the customer. However, sad to say that is why customer service and experience is failing today. My advice stop assuming that your customer already knows and start with knowing your customers.
Here is a reality check, did you know there are more people that stay with an awful product due to the excellent customer attention? If you want your customer's to stay loyal to you it's not your product they are loyal too it is the experience that they receive when they contact the company. Here's the argument for my case: How many people today will stand in a rainy and cold long line outside the stores for a new IPhone? Is it the company that has the phone in stock or is it because of the company that has made the IPhone? It's the company that made and services the phone itself. Now the service provider is a different story but the phone manufacturer and the phones quality everyone loves and pays more than their rent to buy one, that's customer experience coupled with customer loyalty.
Getting to the point
The customer is not always right and the product is not always the best but one thing matters is the experience of caring will change a mean nasty customer to a kind and loyal one. I have experienced this with my own ears and eyes. The mission statement of most companies are to provide some level of service and quality of product but do they always meet their mission? NO! That's why most companies change their mission statement every year and it always has something to do about customer expectation and product quality.
I have some advise on this matter whether some care or not, feel I am right or wrong, this again is my opinion. If you want loyal customers some would say deliver a great product but that only applies to 10% of the consumers and if you are happy with 10%, then go for it. However, for 90% of consumers regardless of your product if you treat them with respect even when they act like a butt then your customer will remain loyal to the company and any product you deliver. They will even pay more for your product even they can get it cheaper somewhere else as long as you treat them like they matter. I have seen excellent customer service and experienced terrible customer service and it's not fun. I am very keen on what happens in a restaurant, if you don't greet your customers within 2 seconds when they enter your lobby I usually walk out. I know that sounds terrible especially when a restaurant is busy however I am a guest in your house, you invited me, greet me at the door, tell me you will be right with me, don't forget about me and I will wait 2 hours just to experience your food and service. However, don't say anything to me, pass by me, don't acknowledge that I am there within 5 seconds and I am taking my business somewhere else. Yes, "Cheers" the show is so right you wanna go where everybody knows your name, maybe not to that degree but I believe that "Norm" loved that place because when coming through the door he felt special, he felt home or welcomed, ok yes sometimes he wouldn't leave until it closed but you get the point. Next time try it, welcome your customer as your guest and see how things will change. It's the experience and not the product only.