Has Customer Service Lost That Personal Touch?
Hello.......I want to talk to a person please!
At times, being a customer service representative can be a very challenging job. It requires patience, a pleasant disposition, good listening skills and attention to detail. Most of us have had held a job that required some type of customer service in person or over the phone, so the important question is has customer service lost that personal touch?
With the corporations dominating, its no wonder most of us dread calling a customer service line with a problem. The process usually begins with the standard automated menu and instructions to press the prompts related to your issue. Afterwards, you enter account information by pressing the numbers on your phone. Sometimes the hold time is so long, you can finish cooking dinner and still have time left over . Finally, a customer service representative answers the phone and the battle between who’s right and who’s wrong begins.
The word customer service is supposed to mean that you are servicing the customer and that you will do everything in your power to make things right. Unfortunately, today’s customer service seems like they are less customer friendly and more money driven.
Below are reasons why customer service may not be as personal as it should be:
1. Company Training- Most corporations have chosen to implement a one size fits all approach for their customer service training. You know when you hear “ I apologize for the inconvenience”, it is something that reps are trained to say. While it’s polite, it can become annoying once over used. Sometimes the customer service reps actually sound like they are reading off a cue card on what to say. Where is the personal touch ? Where is the sense of urgency in their voice or the genuine attitude that they really want to help. I know there are customer service reps who really work hard to satisfy their customer, but a majority of them are not getting paid to care and don’t give you a second thought once they hang up the phone, they are trained that way.
2. High Turn Overrate- Customer service jobs are very demanding and can take its toll. Working long hours, evenings, weekends and sometimes holidays, don’t make you jump for joy for these types of positions. Sitting in a cubicle, headset on, answering calls and typing on the computer all day long is repetitious and draining. Handling complex issues one after the other, doesn’t exactly thrill the average person. Working in an environment that allows people to sabotage each other only to get ahead making a dollar more an hour as supervisor or team leader is frustrating. Usually, the hourly wage does not begin to compensate you for what you have to put up with, yet the benefits could be attractive enough to keep you there for a little while. These are some of the reasons why some call center customer service reps quit and the turn over rate is so high. Now the customer suffers because on any given day when they call, they could be speaking with someone who has not been there long and the one who is training them has not been there long either. Lack of knowledge can lead to not finding the solution to the problem, even though there is one.
3. Productivity- Most companies are all about numbers. Time is money and the more productive you are the more money companies make. In customer service, the objective is to answer calls as quickly as possible. You have to try to solve the problem with lighting fast speed and go to the next one. If you spend too much time with one customer you could be labeled as not being “productive enough”. This is a sad, but true statement. When I worked at this one company, I was told that I was spending too much time with patients. Patients loved the special attention and time I gave them, but the corporates did not like it. Can you believe that was one of the reasons why they terminated my employment. The point is, less care about the people’s needs, more care about the company’s needs. In most cases once they get you commit to their service or purchase their product, the commitment to customer satisfaction is less of a priority.
4. Lack Of Listening Skills- With the birth of texting and social networking websites, more people are communicating in written form. While nothing is wrong with that, people tend to lose their listening skills. For example, when you call customer service, you may have to repeat yourself several times until there is progress. There are a few reasons for that. When the rep asks you upfront what the problem is, they are trying to navigate to the proper computer screen and then they say “ I can help you with that, just a moment please”. Afterwards, they ask for all your information, type it into the system and ask you what the problem is again after you already explained it. I have noticed this myself. The customer service rep may be trying to resolve the issue, even before you are done talking. They are thinking of what to say to you, after all it is about production. Good customer service training should teach more about listening and how to communicate more efficiently with your customers to minimize misunderstandings. As soon as the customer starts complaining or stating the problem, the rep should be writing or typing down everything. They should repeat back the problem and ask questions right away. They should be allowed to engage in appropriate small talk to make the customer feel more at ease. They should make the customer immediately aware that they will do everything that they can to solve their issue, even if it takes time and you have to give them a call back later. Sometimes it takes going the extra mile for the customer that proves to them they made the right choice by giving a company their business.
In general, I feel that customer service has lost its personal touch and it feels like it is getting worse. However, lets not forget those hard working and caring customer service reps out there who need a little support. I am proud and very grateful for those who:
* Call back customers if they are disconnected
* Call back customers when they promise to
* Taken the extra time to research a problem
* Consult a supervisor or manager, before the customer requests it
* Keeping an upbeat attitude, especially towards those who are disrespectful
* Ones who laugh and have a sense of humor
* Working those off hours, especially in the middle of the night, weekends and holidays
* Traveling long distance to work, in spite of high gas prices
* Make small talk and ask how they can make your day better
* Offers multiple solutions
* Small, local business owners who still love their customers and value their business
* THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!