Three Key Components for Excellent Customer Service

Mary Nestor-Harper
Posted by in Customer Service

What did the local barber know about customer service that today’s digital powerhouses don’t know? They knew how to keep customers by building relationships, give great customer service, and get new customers through personal referrals. At least this is what Richard White said in his guest post Forbes.com article, “The Future of Customer Service: Lessons From Your Barber.” The corner barber, beautician or mom-and-pop grocery store knew that personal interaction and conversation kept customers coming back and generated referrals. It’s the old “Cheers” phenomenon. A place where, "…everybody knows your name.”  A friendly place that is interested in you and wants the best for you. 

 

There are three components to giving great customer service.    

 

1.    The commitment to providing great customer service and identifying what that is from the customer’s point of view. It’s one thing to design an efficient, self-service customer service process. The article points out that companies designed for the Internet from the beginning are good at this. Since they didn’t start out as brick-and-mortar companies with traditional processes, they didn’t have to make the transition. Everything is set up for online transactions, from browsing, analyzing, purchasing and customer service. Those companies who didn’t start out on the web have a more difficult transition. Customers may not have what they need online to get the service they need, or know how to navigate a website created to simulate personal service. 

 

2.    Empowering customer service reps to make decisions. Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than having to wait while a service rep checks with a supervisor to make a decision. And it has to be embarrassing and demoralizing for a customer service rep to admit to a customer that they don’t have the least bit of authority to make a service decision. After all, isn’t that what they are hired to do? If not, why don’t the supervisors answer the phones or emails in the first place? It doesn’t take long to track those “exceptions” that are routinely approved. Set guidelines and then let service reps make decisions on service requests. The result? Fewer call backs, fewer supervisor interventions, faster service call resolutions and more time for supervisors to do other work. 

 

3.    Celebrate their work. What could be more worthy of celebration than turning an angry customer into a happy one? It’s not just the interaction, but what it represents. A loyal customer. A retained customer—one that is going to continue to do business with you and recommend your products or services to others. Retaining a customer who is unhappy takes more than a discount coupon or a free stay. It takes a tremendous amount of listening, understanding, empathy, conversational skills, and negotiating with the customer to come to a mutually agreeable resolution. It takes skill, caring and some finesse. Companies that celebrate the work service reps do on a daily basis know that appreciation and recognition are the two best ways to motivate and encourage excellent performance.

 

Digital customer service processes on the web are a reality. Whether you started online or offline in a brick-and-mortar location, customer service will only be excellent to the extent that customers understand how to navigate the system to get results. If a customer has to sort through FAQs without finding anything close to his situation, the system fails. If the question entered into a search comes up without a solution, the customer is frustrated. Online or real people, the system has to understand the customer and be friendly enough for the customer to get the result they need. Anything less is poor customer service.

 

Photo Source: Freedigitalphotos.net

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  • Mary Nestor-Harper
    Mary Nestor-Harper
    Thanks for the comments.  I just had a great experience with a Bank of America customer service rep that was friendly, funny and took care of my questions.  People forget that the customer has to take time out from their busy day to take are of a problem, and it can be a pleasant experience for everyone if the CSR is friendly and knowledegable.
  • Michael G
    Michael G
    the piece cantained useful information
  • Inez Elaine K
    Inez Elaine K
    I think this article hits the nail on the head. Great customer service and identifying what that is from the customer’s point of view is key, empowering customer service reps to make decisions on the spot without having to make the customer wait gives the representative a feeling of accomplishment every time they are able to handle the problem right away and last but not least celebrates the work of the representatives. Let them know that the work they do is  key  to the everyday function of the company.
  • Tamara B
    Tamara B
    This is nothing new to me, Except for giving the CSR the authority to make important decisions for the customer.Sometimes, the CSR doesn't have a clue about what the customer wants. Due to a lack of informationStill...It would be nice to have all of the information and be able to send the customerr on his/her way.
  • Mary Nestor-Harper
    Mary Nestor-Harper
    I have T-Mobile phone service and always loved calling customer service because they were so upbeat and helpful.  And they solved the problem.  But 186 seconds to resolve an issue?  That has to be stressful.  No one likes to be in a service hold line for long, but making CSRs rush doesn't serve anyone.   Thanks for the comments.
  • Ana C V
    Ana C V
    Very good article; however, being a csr is very stressfull and demanding, if we stay focussed and use common sense it can be less stressfull.  Thank you
  • rachel V
    rachel V
    Oh so true!  I just quit my job after 8 years due to the company not putting customers first.  I have always put customers first and had great relationship with them.  And yes many times changed a customer from being very angry to happy or satisfied.  Its a great feeling!  The relationship you make with customers keeps them coming  back.
  • Karen S
    Karen S
    I worked in T Mobile's call center for 10 years. We had to keep our calls to a min. of 186 SECONDS to meet our monthly metrics!!!!Can't do much to connect to a person in 186 seconds!!
  • Todd S
    Todd S
    The first rule in csr-"The customer always comes first".
  • Tammy K
    Tammy K
    Very true in every way. Excellent article.
  • Mary Nestor-Harper
    Mary Nestor-Harper
    Great comments, everyone.  I appreciate all the insights from the trenches...feel free to forward the article to your boss, manager and co-workers.  It's so true that companies hire people and then tie their hands with a lot of rules and approvals before they can help a customer.  You trusted enough to hire them, let them do their job!  The message gets lost when it goes from a service rep who talks to a customer to a manager who just wants to get rid of a complaint.  Thanks for the feedback and for your hard work!
  • Brenda D
    Brenda D
    This is so TRUE!  New managers need to acknowledge this and utilize in the workforce.
  • Phillip R
    Phillip R
    As a person who has been responsible to provide excellent customer service in various job capacities in so called brick and mortar stores over the many years of my career, my observation is that many of the points in the above dissertation reflect how I do handle customers.
  • Hazel C
    Hazel C
    Poor customer service is the. Downfall of a lot of companies today. You can go into a restaurant, the customer service is terrible. So how can all of them expect customers to come back. Friendly service goes a long way. I have been a csr for a long time.
  • Pat M
    Pat M
    CSRs should remember to listen actively - leave their ego at home and adopt a "you" attitude instead of "its all about me".
  • Trudy W
    Trudy W
    Treat the agent or employee as he or she does exist.  Ignoring the agents or employees as if they don't exist or count as if the decisions made on behalf of all employees or agents, must be followed when only a few privileged ones arein on the decision.-----NOT GOOD.
  • Ricardo T
    Ricardo T
    Excellent article. The correct issues were addressed and articulated. Enough here for the beginning Manager to pick up for future successes. Customer Service reps also need to demand those issues that makes their job more fulfilling and efficient for the company. All these issues discussed were for the ultimate profit for THE company.
  • Melissa R
    Melissa R
    This article hit the nail on the head, especially as it relates to "empowering" the customer service reps.  You hired them, you must show that you have faith in their abilities and trust they will do the right thing for the customer and not break the bank for the company.
  • MARIA AURORA R
    MARIA AURORA R
    Yeah ur right..worth reading ..will help ..additional knowledge..thank u so much.
  • Lisa E
    Lisa E
    Those points make sense!If the customer's happy than others are happy.
  • Nadira C
    Nadira C
    This is absolutely correct , and when your supervisor is less knowledgeable than you and he or she feels threaten by your success , he stops communicating with you , messes with your numbers , comes to you with nothing good to say or makes up lies and he himself is tired of the workload and sometimes does not want to deal with customers himself, it can cause you to have a nervous breakdown
  • Peggy H
    Peggy H
    This is a great explanation on customer service. You need to listen to the customer without interrupting them as very often by the end you will know  what there asking and often times it's an easy fix. Results in an easy fix which results in a happy  and returning customer.
  • Chris M
    Chris M
    i agree 100 %,, this is almost an art, listen to the customer. I have been in this field for over 20 yrs,
  • Tom P
    Tom P
    Customer service to me is the key to the overall success of the employee, manager and the company! So why is the service provider so underpaid?
  • Lynn G
    Lynn G
    I found it to be very interesting and worth everyone reading.

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