To provide superior and effective customer service leading to customer satisfaction and high value.
Key Business Questions
- What are customer service needs of my customers?
- What should be the customer service promises, I should commit to the customers?
- How well am I doing on my customer service parameters?
- Is the customer having a consistent and satisfying experience?
- How good are my customer service promises vis-à-vis my competition?
- Is it possible to enhance my customer service promises? What is the business case for the same?
- Are my efforts and tricks to improve the customer service working?
What is Customer Service and Support?
Customer service and support is to provide all the information, fulfillment and resolution to the customers requirements, issues and queries aligned with customer expectations and product promise.
Break down of the definition
Customer Service and Support is to provide all the...
- Information- Information about the product, process, status and other details during and after the purchase.
- Fulfillment- Repair, maintenance, collection, delivery
- Resolution- to issues, complaints
- Customer requirements- installation, demo, configuration, maintenance...
- Issues- complaint, product functioning problems, billing related problems...
- Queries- on delivery status, account status, product features...
- Customer expectations: the service and support should be meeting the expectations in terms of responsiveness, turn around time, quality and completeness.
- Product Promise: Assuming that customer expectations may be misplaced, the customer service should be fulfilling at least the product/sale promise, while bringing the customer expectation to a right point.
TIP- In an ideal scenario, the product promise and the customer expectations should match. For example, if the product promise say that you will have 8X5 on call support, the customer expectations should not be for 24X7. An organization has to ensure that key areas, where customer expectation and product promise are not aligned (one learns of these areas by experience), one should make it clear during the sales process. If we miss that step, one can train the customer service and support to manage customer expectations.
Success Factors and Enablers for Customer Service and Support
Here is the long list of the success factors or enablers for customer service. For some of these factors, we have created separate pages because of their sheer length.
- Integrity: If the customer cannot trust you, or do not think that you mean what you say; all your customer service efforts to keep a happy customer will go to waste. Therefore, even if you have a bad news to the give to the customer, don't sweeten in it to the extent that it looses its core message and has a risk of mis-interpretation.
- Guide the customer: If a customer comes to you with an issue or a query and you are not the right person, you need to guide him towards the right place, but without giving a feeling that you are dropping the ball. A customer would rather be forwarded to the right person, instead of being given a number which he can call-up.
- Make the promises you can keep: This is linked to the integrity aspect. You do face situations, when you have to tell an already irate customer that you cannot make a promise or your timelines are not acceptable to the customer. "Just get him off my back as of now" is very risky approach.
- Empower frontline customer service staff: This is being covered in detail in a field TIP. In short, one needs to empower frontline staff to take decisions and do tasks, so that a customer get immediate gratification and overall organization productivity is enhanced.
- Responsiveness: Too long a queue on the service centre or too long a wait on the telephone can put the customer off. Organizations which do penny pinching on customer service staff on not running after wrong savings.
- Knowledge of your world: Customer service staff needs to have a detailed knowledge about the relevant domains of products and processes.
- Knowledge of customer's world: Enabled by a single customer view and other enabling methods, a customer service person should know all the relevant and available details of the customer.
- Knowing the interaction history: Beyond the customer profile, the details and audit trail of all the interaction customer had with you. This includes
- Mails sent by the customer,
- The telephonic conversation
- Any follow-ups we committed
- The payments done by the customer
- Any billing or due sent by us etc...
- Do more than what customer asks for: This should not be considered as a delight factors as in today's competitive word, a customer takes good customer service for granted. Any extra thing (like placing an additional shine on the repaired car), helps him to stay engaged.
- Supply chain to support: This is again one of those foundation elements. Some examples of a healthy supply chain is:
- Availability of spare parts and well functioning equipment.
- Systems availability to print duplicate bills and statements
- Logistics to deliver the requested material to the customer
- Manpower to fulfill the customer requests
- Employee Satisfaction: From our point of view, the customer service folks need to be the most satisfied employees. This is because they are your face to the customer. The dis-satisfaction of employees has a cascading impact on customer service, especially with the dis-satisfied customers, who are most prone to attrite.
Examples of Performance Metrics:
- % adherence to customer service SLA.
- % Customer satisfaction score to Customer Service Parameters.
- % Cost of Customer Service to Projected Cost.
- Customer Service productivity to standards.