Customer Service: an outdated concept.
When was the last time you had a truly satisfying, rewarding, enjoyable and, above all, successful customer service experience?Bet it was a while ago and, furthermore, I bet such experiences are rare.I honestly can’t remember when my last good one was. Truly. I can remember when my last bad one was – they are much […]
|When was the last time you had a truly satisfying, rewarding, enjoyable and, above all, successful customer service experience?
Bet it was a while ago and, furthermore, I bet such experiences are rare.
I honestly can’t remember when my last good one was. Truly.
I can remember when my last bad one was – they are much more frequent. It was only yesterday and it was truly appalling – involving a slovenly, disinterested and verging on rude, woman behind a counter who couldn’t have cared less about what she was supposed to be doing.
I have recently come to the conclusion that one of the reasons for the absence of good (let alone great) customer service experiences is the disconnect that seems to exist between those who manage the business and those who are interacting with customers on a daily basis. The bigger the business, the greater the disconnect, it would seem.
If you have been watching a series recently on TV One called “Undercover Boss USA” you will probably have a clear sense of what I mean. If you can ignore the distinctly American approach to the programme design and production, you will have seen a number of presidents and CEOs who have gone undercover in their own businesses, only to find that they do not have the foggiest idea of how their business works (or doesn’t work) and what actually does happen on the frontline of those businesses.
It is an extraordinary state of affairs. It is not new. And it is something that I have been banging on about, ad nauseam, for many years.
The people who pay the price are customers. But, of course, there is a price to be paid beyond that and it is by the businesses themselves who will suffer sub-optimal performance. However, when their behaviour is the norm rather than the exception, it can be difficult to get them to understand or accept that.
One of the drivers of bad customer service is that the term “customer service” itself is outdated, too narrow and too generic. What does it actually mean? It typically is not defined by businesses themselves but might, variously, be a philosophy (if only!), a department, an activity, a job title or designation. Often, it is a largely meaningless, all embracing term applied to certain things that may or may not occur and which have the descriptive term “Customer Service” applied to them. Overall, only two value based words are usually applied to the term: “good” and “bad”.
Enter “Customer Experience Management” – a relatively recent concept that is fast gathering momentum as the need to enter into long term, sustainable and mutually satisfying relationships with customers is increasingly being understood.
Here’s the story:
• Customers in all sectors (B2C and B2B) are becoming more sophisticated than ever before.
• They are more knowledgeable than ever before.
• They are more connected than ever before.
• They are more demanding than ever before.
But they are, despite a lot of claims to the contrary, more brand loyal than ever before. Get it right and they will stick with you. But get it wrong and they will be gone in a heartbeat.
And, sitting over the top of all of this, customers (courtesy of technology, social media, networking and the rest) are taking back control. And that is a good thing.
Customer Experience Management refers to the entirely logical concept and process of mapping a customer’s “journey” with a business and setting out to identify key milestones or touch points on that journey and ensuring that the business delivers the experience and outcome the customer wants (will demand) at each of those points.
Jan Carlzon did precisely this at Scandinavian Airlines in the ‘80s. He and his entire staff worked on identifying every “Moment of Truth” (now more frequently referred to as Touch Points) that occurs between customers and the airline. They realised that the outcomes of those Moments of Truth were being left to chance – good people delivered good outcomes, ordinary people delivered ordinary outcomes and bad people delivered bad outcomes.