Customer Service Excellence - what does it mean to you?

What Does Customer Service Excellence Mean To You?

Every one of us has our own definition of customer service excellence.

Our personal definition usually depends on a number of factors at the time. Things like:

  1. How much of a hurry you were in and how long it took to get help
  2. If the customer service was delivered quickly with minimal effort on your part
  3. If the customer service representative was genuinely friendly and helpful, and really seemed to care
  4. If you got partial or complete resolution
  5. If you were pleasantly surprised by receiving more help than you expected

At the end of the interaction, our feelings on the type of customer service we received will affect our overall perception of the business or organisation. And this can change with each interaction, whether it be visiting in person, calling a company, or contacting through a chat box or email enquiry.

Customer service excellence after the sale

If the initial level of service we received during purchase was outstanding – it also needs to be outstanding when we seek follow-up customer service with your contact centre. It’s a fact of life that many sales people do a great job of providing “service” during the purchase phase, because they want the sale.

But after the sale, if issues arise around delivery, product quality, a website malfunction, administrative procedures – anything –  it’s not the salesperson’s problem. They’re onto the next sale.

Contact centre customer service staff are the real face of your company

For many organisations, it’s the contact centre customer service staff who are responsible for nurturing the relationship and who will ultimately influence our overall perception of your company.

If our issues are not handled with customer service excellence at every step of our journey, and on every occasion, our initial warm fuzzy feeling will dissipate. Our perception about your company overall will shift, and may influence our decision to stay or go.

Your contact centre staff are perceived to be “your organisation”. They are the face of your company – because in operational reality, they are often the people we will deal with for as long as we remain a customer.

Tips for contact centre customer service excellence

The secret to ensuring we enjoy customer service excellence with your organisation consistently, lies with making it easy to achieve.

1 – Make it easy for your customers to reach customer service

  1. Time is arguably the most important factor of customer service excellence, and anything you can do to serve your customers faster will certainly leave a favourable impression. In our article How To Save Your Customer’s Time – we show you how you can potentially cut a 10 minute call by 8 minutes.
  2. If your contact centre experiences inbound queues longer than 3 minutes, offer a call back service.
  3. Your customer service phone number and/or chat link should be prominent (and clickable) on your website. Unfortunately, some companies put customers through a long journey of knowledge base screen choices before the option to contact a live person by phone, email or chat is finally presented. While the intention may be noble – ie: provide online help – the reality is it can be an extremely frustrating experience.
  4. If you use a “no-reply” email address (another frustrating practice) – ensure your customer service phone number and/or email address is included in the email, and is clickable to make it easy for people using mobile phones.
  5. Give customers choice on how they can reach you by ensuring you offer multi-channel methods of contact. More and more people prefer to use chat, email or messaging rather than making actual phone calls.
  6. Make it easy for your customers to interact with you from their mobile phone (which let’s face it, these days is probably more than 75% of your calls). There are many clever ways you can enhance the mobile customer experience you deliver.
  7. Give your customers self-service options for standard transactions using a well-planned, customer-friendly IVR system. It is important though to ensure it’s easy for your callers to reach a live person when they need to.

2 – Make it easy for your team to deliver customer service excellence

No matter how courteous and well trained your team are, if your current technology makes it difficult for them to deliver efficient service, they will not be motivated to do their best.

You are effectively restricting and compromising them, instead of supporting them to deliver the service you want them to, and that they are trying hard to provide. Give them the tools they need, and you will see productivity, job satisfaction and customer satisfaction levels improve substantially.

  1. Invest in contact centre technology integration, so your team has instant access to your CRM and ERP systems in one window and do not have to flick back and forth between multiple windows. Even better – a two-way integration enables them to update all your systems in one go, thus reducing double entry and the likelihood of data entry errors.
  2. Ensure your contact centre solution makes it easy to transfer calls to other team members, and without the customer having to repeat the authentication process all over again.
  3. Give your team the functionality to instantly send text messages with links to forms, product pages or knowledge base articles while still on the call, to speed up customer service and resolution.
  4. Ensure your team has access to a comprehensive and up to date knowledge base system so they can find answers quickly and easily.

When you equip your team with the right technology, not only will customer service excellence become consistently achievable – the happiness levels of your customers, staff and management team will also improve.

See 15 Ways to Boost Contact Centre Efficiency for a host of valuable ideas. Sometimes even the smallest changes can have a significant impact on efficiency and customer satisfaction.

3 – Ensure your team understands what customer service excellence really means

Many businesses believe that the key to providing customer service excellence lies with the quality of their products or services. It’s a mindset around “if the customer is happy with what they’ve purchased, and we have very low rates of return/refunds – then it proves we are delivering what customers want”.

Not true. This does not equate to customer service excellence. This is “technical excellence” because the product or service fixed the problem or fulfilled the desire. And so it should. When we buy something, we expect it to do the job. If we hire someone to provide a service, we assume they are capable.

Customer service excellence is all to do with the “service” aspect of every contact. Always keep in mind the old retail adage: Customers remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price.

It all hails back to our original list of factors which determine our definition of customer service excellence.

  1. How much of a hurry you were in and how long it took to get help.

Recommendation – use contact centre technology which:

  • queues calls and intelligently directs them to the right agent,
  • provides callers with a visual IVR so they can see the queue time, choose to wait or request a call back, without losing their queue position
  1. If the customer service was delivered quickly with minimal effort by the customer

Recommendation – use contact centre technology which:

  • makes the customer authentication process easy and fast, by implementing mobile verification or voice biometrics solutions
  • is fully integrated with your back office systems so your team has customer data screen-popped and company information instantly available
  • gives customers the option for easy to use self-service
  1. If the customer service person was genuinely friendly and helpful, and really seemed to care

Recommendation – provide regular training and feedback including:

  • phone etiquette, attentive listening, clear communications – both verbal and written
  • process for dealing with difficult people
  • review of voice recordings to analyse customer sentiment and how calls were handled
  1. If you got partial or complete resolution

Recommendation – ensure your team have a well-defined process for determining resolution, eg:

  • Use of a script which prompts agents to ask if the customer is happy with the outcome and if there are any other issues they’d like help with
  • An efficient follow-up system if further tasks need to be completed (investigation, replacement arrangement, documentation receipt, policy clarification, etc) before the issue is resolved. Your technology should allow the matter to remain open and should prompt your team member to follow up by the due date.
  • Contact centre software with a robust Wrap feature which ensures the agent completes required details of the contact interaction before they can move on to the next customer.
  1. If you were pleasantly surprised by receiving more help than you expected

Recommendation – empower your team members to deliver customer service excellence.

  • Give them authority to do things (appropriate to your business) – like offering free delivery to compensate for a billing error, offering a voucher to say sorry for an issue, or helping customers to fill out a form.
  • Teach them to “go wide, go deep”. This means asking all the right questions to give a customer a thorough, exceptional experience.
  • Undertake customer research to determine what really matters to them, and share this with your teams. It’s often the little things which matter most – like a friendly and courteous human being who goes “off script” occasionally and converses like a human being. It might be simply sending out an email which confirms the discussion in writing. It might be following up with a customer by phone a day or two later to ensure that they are happy with the outcome and ensure the issue is resolved.

 

In essence, customer service excellence depends on how easy and fast you make it for customers reach you, and how well you respond to their needs.

These quotes sum up the importance of customer service excellence beautifully.

Stellar service should be non-negotiable and merchants shouldn’t hide behind self-service tools and technology when it comes to knowing their products and taking care of their customers.” Lauren Freedman, President of the E-Tailing Group

“68% of customers said that a pleasant representative was key to their recent positive service experiences, and 62% said that a representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key.” American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer

When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better.” Kristin Smaby, “Being Human is Good Business”

Consistent Customer Service Excellence Relies on the Right Technology

Cloud-based Premier Contact Point is the right solution for contact centre customer service teams of 10 or more to efficiently deliver customer service excellence. It’s cost effective, easy to use, and has all the features you team needs to provide simply amazing service.

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