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  • Is Your Customer Service a Game-Changer or Just Keeping You in the Game?

    Lisa Ford, Is Your Customer Service a Game-Changer or Just Keeping You in the Game?

    All companies would love to be able to say they are a game changer. Whether it is with their service, brand or innovation, few companies really can claim such a grand statement. Some of the few who come to mind might include Ritz Carlton, Southwest Airlines, Target, Starbucks and Apple. My experience tells me more companies are just trying to stay in the game because changing it is not a reality given their mindset and limiting processes. To keep up with the best, here are the customer service skills your company needs to practice:

    1. Be easy to find. Is your 800 number visible on the front page of your website? Stop hiding the number. Forrester Research shows customers still want to talk to you. In a recent study customers were asked, “Which method do you prefer to use when interacting with customer service?” The response showed 79% preferred the phone and email came in at 33%. Customers still want a real person in a call center.
    2. Let your people be “real.” Give them power to build a relationship. Scripts are old school. Hire and train well so you can trust your team to talk to the customer. Make certain they understand how to own the experience.
    3. Appear seamless. Customers do not want to repeat themselves. Have data systems that allow the next employee or department to be aware of the customer’s situation and conversation. I am amazed at how many organizations have not cleaned up their act on this issue.
    4. Create access at the customer’s preferred contact point. Social media, email, live chat, call center, web self serve, automated phone system, video – all options must be available and you must be able to track their usage history to win their loyalty. All these interaction points have a great chance to frustrate the customer. Engage with customers at the right place and at the right time. They choose the channel and you have to be ready to respond as needed. Make certain you create a winning experience.
    5. Deliver on your promise. Is it that difficult to callback and follow through as promised? Your brand is at risk when you do not deliver. It is too easy for customers to broadcast their dissatisfaction quickly. The negative comments gain traction fast as others start to pile on their input. Don’t let your lack of reliability and responsiveness allow this to happen. Customers want less hassle and less friction. Give them knowledgeable responses the first time.What will you do today to make certain your customer service is keeping you in the game? Be better, think differently, innovate your service delivery and you might have a chance at changing the game.

    Lisa Ford is a speaker with over 20 years of experience presenting to businesses, associations and government. She speaks throughout the United States and internationally on topics of customer service, leadership, team issues and change. Her recent book is Exceptional Customer Service – Exceed Customer Expectations to Build Loyalty and Boost Profits.

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