Customer service: The evolving art and underlying attitudes
Monday, October 17, 2016/
Companies are struggling to find service success and the right balance of internet automation and skilled people who can manage complex service needs. Companies like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines are leading the way with their commitment to an one-hour response (when needed) and a 24 hour problem solving promise; KLM has been using social media as its cornerstone of success.
There is an increasing demand for higher end experiences, which means the challenge grows for companies to deliver that balance of technology, trained staff and outsourcing of specialised functions.
According to McKinsey, customer care will change dramatically around two key dimensions: “first, understanding the evolving value and complexity of transactions and, second, choosing the right level of human interaction and automation for superior service”.
Digital care channels
Webchat, social media and email responses have grown to become 50-80% of all customer traffic. More low value transactions must be resolved online with automation and digital solutions.
Companies must assess the journey of customers to identify problem issues. Then there can be a clearer focus on serving customers in the high-value, high-complexity categories.
Great resources are a pathway to great responses
Make sure your company does have great resources and technology. When clients are repeatedly frustrated, this is a loud message to management.
Sophisticated technology to manage preliminary inquiries must deliver satisfaction and “feel human”.
Everyone deserves great service from us
Great service comes from great systems underlying what goes on at front of house.
McKinsey has pointed out the importance of high-end skills in customer care, and the training that must go into achieving this. Take advantage of as much in-house training as possible; it will stand you in good stead both now and later.
Companies that look after their staff and invest in proper training show results because their staff go the extra mile for customers/clients and the business. I admire managers and individuals who proactively set their own high bar for professional behaviour.
It starts with developing the right thinking patterns in the first place:
“I want to help you”
It starts with having the desire to help someone and caring enough about them to want to help. The first and best way to improving customer care is simple: treat others as you’d like to be treated. We all have days when we need help, but nothing is progressed when the person from whom you’re seeking assistance is being anything but helpful.
Take a moment to remember that when someone is asking for help, it’s because they need it. Just do it and you’ve already made a difference to that person plus you feel better.
“I am here to help you quickly”
This means being there, in the moment, paying attention to what someone is asking, and doing your very best to attend to matters, pronto. The focus, whether face to face or online is on reducing wait-times, tailoring responses to people’s specific queries and needs, and not allowing things to pile up.
“I can make others feel relaxed and glad they called”
A tense tone of voice instantly communicates itself to the other person. If you’re finding you’re a ball of tension most of the time, this is when you must (constructively) raise matters with the person or supervisory team to whom you’re reporting. Initiate a matrix of likely queries and helpful responses you’ve thought up; be tactful and invite further direction from them.
With their sign-off, you’ll be able to field inquiries efficiently and calmly. This enables greater relaxation on your part, which in turn transmits to the caller and … the positive energy goes full circle.
“I care about everyone who calls”
Maybe this isn’t the case for everyone all of the time. But “care” really means making the effort to listen and respond appropriately, sincerely and helpfully – not reading from automated cues. Why should you sound robotic, as though you’re reading from some sheet? Know and perceive people’s most likely requests through giving your best to each and every inquiry.
“I am comfortable with emotions and overload”
Be as organised as possible. If it means starting your day earlier, charting your work-in-progress before you leave, prioritising again, assisting colleagues when asked, then this adds considerably to your ability to be calm.
You’re in a team, after all. You all have a vested interest in lightening your collective load. Each of you will undoubtedly encounter rude customers – face-to-face, on the phone or online.
Try to remember that many people are stressed or venting from pressures elsewhere in their lives. Seek company backup if matters escalate.
Change that negative thinking
Irrespective of where your company sits on today’s increasingly customised digital spectrum, individuals can convert negative thinking to positive:
I hate these petty complaints – I like the challenge of resolving problems
Everybody expects so much of me – I like making improvements
This is a mess – When I’m organised I feel really good about work
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace. See the rest of Eve’s blogs here.