Customer Service: Dig to the Root of the Issue
No doubt you cater to constantly changing, demanding, fickle, sophisticated and knowledgeable customers, to which you communicate via catalog, online, phone and fax. And customer service consultant Lisa Ford, president of Ford Group, who gave a luncheon presentation during NCOF last week, reminded attendees that no matter what you do, every communication must be with a customer-centric focus in every thought, process and proposition.
“With customers changing so fast,” she said, “you have to be a step ahead of them, leap-frogging them every so often.”
She pointed out that marketers sometimes don’t see things the way their customers are seeing it. In fact, in her observations, she believes that catalogers and other marketers are get “a little too insular.” In fact, she finds service overall to be “pretty mediocre at best. We (as consumers) are getting processed as customers, but still not getting served. (We) want a relationship, not just a transaction.”
Quality service, she noted, is adding people to the product. “Your product isn’t terribly unique,” she said. “Anybody can copy your product, but they can’t copy your people and service you provide.” So to accomplish quality service, she laid out the following tips
* Beg for complaints. How are you creating systems and methods to get people to provide you feedback? The value of getting complaints is priceless, she said, because dissatisfied customers tell you twice as much as satisfied customers do.
* Respond within 24 to 48 hours. It’s not necessarily imperative to come up with a resolution that quickly, she said, since it’s not always possible to fix the problem immediately. But respond right away to alert the customer, “Here’s when you can anticipate hearing from us.”
* Exceed expectations. There has to be a “wow” in today’s world of sophisticated, educated customers. And you’re creating a customer experience every time a customer is touch by your organization, she pointed out.