Back To CourseBusiness 201: Customer Service
15 chapters | 96 lessons
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Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.
We've all been there: a service desk attendant who doesn't pay attention to your problem or a call to an 800 number that gets transferred three times with no resolution. Poor service can create a real problem for both customers and businesses. For customers, it can be a costly, time-wasting and frustrating experience, and for businesses, it may mean the loss of future sales due to an unhappy consumer.
What are the reasons that customer service may be less than ideal? As a customer service manager, Tony has a few ideas. He's made a list of several employees he's having issues with, and thinks he's isolated some of the most common barriers to effective customer service. Follow along to see which of Tony's employees is on the naughty list.
If you're trying to identify ways to improve your customer service, figuring out where you're failing might be a good starting point. Let's take a look at some problems Tony has identified in his own business that might be creating an environment of poor customer service:
Tony has gotten several complaints about Mary and her attitude of indifference, or lack interest, toward customers' problems. Customers can pick up quickly on a representative who has no interest or concern in their situation. While the problem may not be a big one to the employee, it was big enough to the customer for them to call your 800 number or visit your store. The type of interaction between a customer and an employee can make or break whether you retain or lose a customer. Indifference may also be a contributing factor to other employee issues such as sloppy work, an untidy work space, or lazy behaviors.
The first cousin of indifference is inattention, or distraction away from the workplace and the customers a representative encounters. That's Andrew's problem. Tony has observed Andrew sitting on the counter, leaving his work area, and finishing phone calls before waiting on customers.
Inattention makes customers feel like they're unimportant or that their concern is not valued. It also reflects poorly on your business to have employees who are distracted or are ignoring customers in their presence. Above all, as humans, we want to be heard and to have our feelings validated. In customer service, consumers expect their problem to be treated like the most important thing that's happening at that time and for a solution to be reached quickly.
Tony's new call center has hit a few bumps in the road, and Tabitha is one of the primary culprits. It's not altogether Tabitha's fault, but due to faulty training and a customer service process that doesn't allow representatives to get right to the problem, some customers have hung up unhappy.
Part of the problem experienced in call centers is with communications that are too heavily scripted, or that too closely follow a pre-written script. Have you ever called an 800 number and answered the same three or four initial questions every time you call, when all you want to know is how to fix your problem? Over-scripted, canned conversations take away from a personalized, authentic service between a representative and the customer. Tony needs to work out a system that empowers employees to address problems, trust them to do so, and keep customers happy.
Ever heard the phrase, 'Overworked and underpaid?' That might be Mitchell. Because Tony has had some pretty rapid growth in his business over the past few weeks, his core group of employees, including Mitchell, have been putting in extra shifts, covering weekends, and assisting with additional tasks outside their traditional workload. This has led to a staff that is a bit frazzled.
Overworked employees can quickly lose their physical and mental energy. Rather than get more done, even though they're working more hours, they're actually performing less because nothing is a priority. This can lead to important steps being forgotten and details being lost.
As consumers, we want answers - and we want them now. We rent movies from self-serve kiosks and can find anything we want to buy online. The same goes for our complaints or problems when we have them. Veronica is one of Tony's employees that he has concerns about in this area. She is seldom able to handle a caller's complaint on her own, frequently has to refer the customer to a supervisor, and leaves customers on-hold for lengthy periods of time. Often, that leads to the customer hanging up and calling back angrily to reach another employee.
Finding a way to handle customer concerns quickly and efficiently is crucial to keeping customers satisfied. There may be times when the appropriate response is to refer the customer to another individual or department, but identifying those situations and doing it quickly is key.
We text and we chat on social media, but when was the last time you had a real face-to-face conversation? In customer service, human interaction, even if it occurs over the Internet or a wireless device, is important. Bella is one that could benefit from trying a little human touch. That might include making small talk, asking questions, referring to notes from a caller's previous session, or referencing customer information to deliver a more personal service.
For some businesses, that might include figuring out the best way to reach out to customers and recognizing the signs when anger or frustration is setting in. Being able to identify problematic moments and infusing them with a little human interaction can settle a volatile situation.
Customer service, whether good or bad, can make or break your relationships with your customers. Identifying some of the common barriers to good customer service, such as indifference and inattention to customer concerns and overworked employees or those relying too heavily on scripted conversations can help a business correct these concerns. Employees who fail to resolve problems quickly or who lack the touch of human interaction can also create barriers between customers and businesses.
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Back To CourseBusiness 201: Customer Service
15 chapters | 96 lessons