The so called “Customer Service” is something that all companies are bound to have nowadays. In many cases it is due to the fact that those companies feel they need a way to interact with their customers. However, there are many (plenty I should say) that they have this service not because they are eager to improve through customer interaction but because in many countries it is a legal obligation to do so. Their compromise with their customers is, somehow, rather ineffective as they try to make it as difficult as possible.
The “easy” customer service: The customer lover
It is very easy to see who these companies are. They make every effort to satisfy their customers, even when it may look at first that it goes against their own interest. They use every single way they can think of to get to the customer:
- The will offer extended hours, reaching even the 24×7 customer support.
- In most cases it will be a free call or, at least, they will charge the lowest possible rate.
- Their web page will incorporate features like chat and/or click-to-call.
- They will thoroughly follow-up on incidents and open cases and, normally, will also follow up on the closed ones.
- They will be very interactive in their actions with customers, offering multiple new ways for the customer to communicate i.e. twitter, facebook (some engage even in snapchat or instagram).
These companies understand the need of being in touch with their customers as they know it is the only way to be ahead of the game.
Standard customer service: The “Everybody does it” approach
“Let’s hear what our customers have to say…as long as they pay for the service”. Sad to say but most companies fall in this category. They offer their customer service because they see that everybody else does it and, to a certain extent, are curious to see what customers have to say. Companies feel pretty confident about their services or products and may only think of their customer service as an additional way to “monetize” this effort:
- They will usually offer business hours support (i.e. M-F 09:00 to 19:00).
- Lines will probably be engaged most of the time as they don’t see customer service as a priority.
- Once you get through some will try to sell you something (cross-sell).
- You will have to make the call at a normal rate.
- Their on-line presence will be very limited with SLAs to get back to you rather lengthy…but they will get back to you eventually.
- The company will review their customer support strategy as long as it can be auto-sufficient (revenue generating).
The companies with a total lack of respect for customers: The “we don’t care about customers” approach
Unfortunately we all know about these companies, the ones that they have a “customer service” (and they are a rather “customer upsetter” more than a helping hand). They clearly have such a department due to legal reasons as they are probably obliged by law to do so. These sort of companies are unique as they may offer products or services that nobody else can, therefore they don’t really care about what their customers have to say or feel. It springs to my mind a few names to whom I shall not mention to avoid any legal disputes like certain very low-cost airline or some government entities…
- Firstly it will be very difficult to know how to get in touch with them.
- Numbers or email addresses will be nearly hidden in their web page.
- Phone numbers will only work at very specific times during the day and will be charged at EXTRA-premium cost. You will have to consider if it is worth selling one of your kidneys to afford the call.
- No chances of going through to a human being in the first instance. Your call will be answered by an automatic system that will take you around and around for many minutes.
- You will probably hear “your call is very important to us” (because it is already making money for them) and “your call is in a queue and the estimated time to attend your query is 5 minutes” but you will hear this every 10 minutes…
- If you are ever lucky to get to a human, they will show no remorse to have you on the phone for ever.
- You can send them an email, which will probably go directly to a folder called “customer-spam”.
- SLAs to resolve your queries are…well, in best case scenario non existent.
Every customer is different and so is every company. Normally you will not receive a “Rolls Royce” treatment if you are only willing to spend for the cheapest products or services, which is normal. However, I guess there is always a balance in between customer expectations and services offered. If you want your customers to be loyal to you then you should consider how you treat them and how you are planning to interact. Selling in the first place is not the problem, it is keeping the customer what is the most difficult and most important.
Know your customer and you will know your business…treat your customer like you would like to be treated.