In this piece, I will concentrate on the value of Customer Service to companies today; I can safely say that the quality of Customer Service has been at the very top of the list of requirements that companies have when they come to me in regards to their challenges.
So I was thinking about what to say in this blog about service. Do I describe the functionality of service, or do I focus on what good customer service is, and the impacts on a company being unable to deliver good quality customer service? I’ve decided on the latter but will follow this up with something that focuses on the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics.
The importance of quality customer service
Good quality customer service is akin to the holy grail. It is clear that the pace of life today is much faster than it was some 20, or even 10 years ago. Associated with this change - the impact of 24 x 7 news, Social media, and full internet access at lightning speeds in all corners of the world. The impact these channels will have can only increase as internet speeds continue to accelerate, and social media channels mature.
The negative impact of these channels (although they prove to be positive for the quality of customer service) is that companies who are seen as unable or unwilling to deliver good customer service are vilified worldwide. Their stock values can be negatively hit quickly. This is especially true of companies in the retail vertical but can also impact other verticals easily.
The challenge of exceeding expectations
So everyone recognises that good customer service is critical, and so companies have been investing heavily in being able to deliver against their customer expectations. So what do companies want, and what does the customer want?
I often find that companies are not internally ready or able to support the modernisation of customer support – and that it’s not a technology issue. Software solutions that can deliver the full 24 x 7 omni-channel support to customers exist and are fairly mature. More often than not the companies I talk to are politically and organisationally rigid. I find it very difficult to break the shackles of their rigidity and re-organise their customer support organisation so that they better align with the expectations of the modern customer.
Let’s take one simple example of poor quality customer support – a retail customer has a bad experience in a coffee house and at 10 pm decides to take to Twitter to complain – a common scenario in the retail sector as Twitter is a public channel.
The sarcastic and humourous tone in the negative post catches fire and is re-tweeted hundreds of times, publicly. If the coffee house does not have the capability to monitor and respond to the outbreak on social media channels caused by an event like this, this could cause a major dip in business. If they do well to respond but get the response wrong this error will be widespread and public and could exacerbate the situation.
For instance, if a company waits until their business hours at 10 am the next morning to respond, it is likely the negative post will already have spread across the internet. If they tell the customer to move the issue to a private traditional channel such as email or phone, this will also most likely exacerbate the issue.
In order to manage this, the coffee house needs to...
1) Respond on the channel used by the customer
2) Respond as soon as possible
3) Be positive, supportive, and if possible humorous in the response (this can be positive for the brand)
4) Be seen to have resolved the issue
In a B2C company, I’ve seen good brands using software that’s capable of responding to the customer on their channel of choice, responding in good time, hiring people who are able to deal with social media in a “fun” way, and lastly but critically – using a software solution that’s capable of managing issues across a large variety of traditional and social channels.
So what is bad practice in the modern world?
Worryingly I’ve seen plenty of companies, sat on call centres, and experienced the worst practices. It’s scary when you see the reality of poor customer service. Some companies (often the companies who have been established for decades), expect the customer to just phone or email and have operations that run only in business hours, excluding weekends. I’m not going to name names, but they do seem incapable of change, being mired in management fog, and layers of bureaucracy that new companies often do not have.
New companies tend to come in with an expectation of delivering consistent service across all channels and at all times, and they recognise the impact a negative customer experience can have on a business.
So in conclusion – excellent customer service is out there, and alongside having good practice and good people, a good software solution is needed. One that’s callable of full omni-channel support, scripting support for agents, SLA based issue management, full audit-ability, escalation routines, and a shedload of other capabilities.
I’ll elaborate more on the fit of Dynamics Customer Service in my next blog post.