Every contact centre strives to provide excellent customer service but how is this acheived? Steve Shellabear of Dancing Lion reveals insights.
Defining customer service.
This needs little introduction. At the heart of all businesses is the need to attract and retain customers. Customer service is all about how to get consumers through the door initially (both literally and figuratively) and how to make sure that they keep on coming back.
First of all, a ‘touchpoint’ is all-encompassing term used to describe any encounter where your business engages with your customers. This includes phone calls, email enquiries, face to face contact – basically anything which provides a service, facilitates transactions, or the exchange of information.
Each touchpoint for the purchasing and post sales process needs to flow smoothly from one stage to another in order to win and retain the maximum number of customers. If these customers are satisfied, they will not only form a loyal client base, but they are also far more likely to return for further purchases and to recommend your products elsewhere. How do you know if your company is providing excellent customer service? It’s quite simple – take care of the touchpoints, particularly focusing on the ‘moments of truth’ where the customer’s perception of your service is heightened:
1. Initial contact. Be friendly, whether it’s face to face, over the phone or email. Remember that a smile can be heard and felt! Customers need to feel welcome and attended to.
2. Train your staff. They need to be able to talk to customers, interact effectively and problem solve where necessary. This helps to ensure a smooth and positive customer experience from start to finish.
3. Basic interpersonal skills are essential; active listening, guiding the conversation, questioning skills, saying thank you and showing patience and respect to customers.
4. And don’t forget, once the customer’s experience is over, don’t forget to ask for – and use – their feedback. Even great customer service can be improved.
Who provides excellent customer service and how do they do it?
Unsurprisingly, the most well-known top companies for customer service are the big businesses. Amazon, Utility Warehouse, First Direct, Specsavers, Waitrose and John Lewis to name but a few. But regardless of the size of the outfit, the same criteria apply to achieving high standards of customer service as it does to much smaller operations.
Customers increasingly expect an immediate resolution to their problem – and usually online. Focus on innovative multiple engagement features, such as chat, video, mobile and social media.
A phone number to a contact centre may be the last resort, when other attempts at communication have failed. At these times, customer service is even more important.
Unless process and procedures are aligned and staff are properly trained call centres that rely on Voice interactions can seem slow and frustrating. In the digital world contact centres must acknowledge the preferred customer channel for communication and answering a social media complaint is essential. Dissatisfied online posts are becoming ever more prevalent in the customer’s effort to guarantee a quick response to their problem.
Perhaps most simply of all, valuing the customers’ time is a sure-fire way to ensure good customer service. Consumers need to feel their individual transaction is important, and equally so for their individual problems.
Steve Shellabear is Managing Director of Dancing Lion.
Companies that we have worked with include large corporates, SMEs and start-ups.
Using customer service assessment tools and innovative customer service training programmes we identify the components that maximise the customer experience, develop skills and capability, build staff engagement and improve productivity.
Our private sector clients include BUPA, Coca Cola European Partners, Microsoft, Kraft Foods and many more. We have also worked extensively in the public sector for local government. The success behind our client work is a combination of experience, personal attention and focus on helping our clients make measurable improvements.