Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BE HUMAN IN YOUR CONVERSATION



Many companies think that automation is the holy grail of all their efforts. The more automation, the better.
In that case, you really do miss the point. Why? Because service business is first and foremost people business. Your customers are people of flesh and blood and want to be treated as such. The same applies to your employees, they are also humans! So, the golden rule (treat someone else in the same way you would like to be treated) should be the cornerstone of your business.

Now, you can say, what a big deal, that is what I have known for  a long time. But there is a difference between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’. Last week I tried to sell my shares via a specialized company. First, I did go to their website. After some searching it became clear that I needed an activation code to sell my shares. That is fine, but the activation code will be send to me (in The Netherlands) by postal mail from the US. Clearly that doesn’t help me, it is far too slow (mails take approx 3 weeks) and there is no guarantee that I will receive the mail.

So, I decided to call them, there was even a special number for overseas customers. Great! To my surprise, their menu only gave me options to listen to automated messages. There was no option to talk to a customer service representative. Incredible, why do you have a call center when it is nearly impossible to speak to a human being?

I did go back to the site and asked how I could speak directly with a human being. Fortunately they answered and gave me a way to hack the system. Yes, hack the system, press 0 and # and you will be transferred to a real CSR. I did call this person, but the only thing what she did was reading scripts and after each script she asked me to choose an option, it was totally impossible to start a conversation. It looked like I was connected with a robot.

This doesn’t work: not for me as a customer and not for the company and its employees either. Only through real conversation problems can be solved and needs detected.

Do you treat your customers, as you would like to be treated?



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TOP 7 FACTORS IMPACTING CUSTOMER/PROFESSIONAL/TECHNOLOGY SERVICES IN 2011


When you are responsible for the service business in your organization, these are the factors to take very seriously this year.

  • SERVICE BUSINESS = PEOPLE BUSINESS
Instead of focusing on the weaknesses of your employees and managers, focus on their strenghts and passion. This is much more challenging and helps people to take responsilbility and show commitement.
Employee Egagement is not a luxury, but a necessity. Listen and actively engage your people in all your plans and activities.
Have a clear purpose and make sure that you provide meaning in all that you do.
Develop an entrepreneurial mindset in everyone. Execution alone is no longer enough.

  • SOCIAL MEDIA
This is not a fad, but a fact of life. Therefor make sure that you are present in the space where your customers are ‘residing’. Focus on building communities and real relationships.

  • CULTURE OF INNOVATION
Foster and build such a culture that change and innovation are the norm. Also here the entrpreneurial mindset is crucial.

  • FROM COSTCENTER TO FRONTCENTER
Customer Service is the only sustainable differentiator. Experts even call Customer Service the new marketing. In your leadership stress and actually support this shift.

  • INTEGRATE MILLENIALS
Many service engineers are baby boomers and approaching retirement. In order to fill the projected gap, start soon to hire and introduce Miellenials and really value their contribution.

  • SUSTAINABILITY
Introduce the concepts of the 5 R’s (reduce, recycle, reuse, repair, and redistribute) to services.

  • OPENNESS AND TRANSPARANCY
Break down the walls and show the market what you do and at the same time see what is happening there. Engage your cusomers in all your customer facing processes. Innovation needs the input from the market, so apply open innovation and crowdsourcing as well.

It is better to be prepared than to be surprised. So, lead the change in these interesting times!



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WHO IS CUSTOMER SERVICE?



There are a lot of articles written about customer service. And most of those articles are not very positive about its performance. It even does have a hashtag on Twitter (#custserv). But who is customer service?

It is a name of a department or even a collection of departments. In those departments work people, yes PEOPLE! Very hardworking people who try to satisfy the customer, solve problems and give other information.
It could be sales support, the bid team, receptionists, support engineers, call center employees, logistics, administration and many different other tasks/departments.

I did mention that they try to satisfy the customer. Why ‘try’? That is because they are most of the time located between a rock and a hard place. They are the bridge between the customers’ needs and the internal organization. Their task is rather challenging when the internal org is not supportive, not up to date, when the processes don’t work or when the systems are outdated or not reliable. Despite these issues they still have to represent the org towards the customer. Sometimes that is not a job to be jealous about.

Service business is people business. So, customer service is people business as well. This means that we can never judge the performance of a complete department based upon the experience with just one employee. Many employees are part of the team, and so the team performance should count as well. And organizations should do much more to support and empower these people in the trenches. After all, they are a crucial connection between the brand and the customers.

They have to be seen as people who perform a very challenging job and they need to receive the right support tools and coaching to do a fine job. The main thing is that they are taught people skills as well. They are on a daily basis building relationships with your customers.

Do you know your customer service representatives, personally?



GROW YOUR PEOPLE, GROW YOUR BUSINESS!


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