Monday, May 28, 2018

The 20 Customer Service Facts You Should Know

In my more than ten years in the service business and information technology, I have come to accept 20 facts in my customer service world.

You may think otherwise about these facts, but I always get in trouble when I take for granted any one of them.

I also noticed that the more conscious I am about these facts, the better I manage my team, the more refined are the customer service trainings I designed, and the more proactive my approaches to customer service becomes.

One of the best bonuses I get is that I seldom get unresolved issues haunting me in the future.

Here are my 20 Customer Service Facts:

1. If you keep tabs of your resolution rates related to complaining Customers, you will find out that less than 10% of dissatisfied Customers will actually file a complaint or let you know about it.

This is one reason why I always make it a commandment in my sales or customer support teams to call the Customer 3 or 5 days after delivery or completion of service.

You should not wait for them to tell someone else about the problem before you have a chance to know about it.

Most problems really are just a result of a Customer not being educated enough to harness the benefits from your product or service.

Show them how!

Besides, if your service or product provides him or his company an edge, why would he tell his next door neighbor why he has the edge.

He knows his competitor is going to get hold of it somehow, he just doesn't want it happening anytime soon.

2. 300% more people will know about your bad service from dissatisfied Customers than your good service from satisfied customers.

Sales people have always observed this pattern about Customers.

If you are not that keen yet about this trend better watch out because you might end up hearing it from your competition, after he gets your Customer.

Worst! He gets your biggest Customer.

This is one fact that is not funny when it's eating up your market.

You will lose Customers and it's usually too late to know why.

If your Customer is a member of an association or a club, you can bet that half of the membership already know about the bad news.

You can also bet that nobody will hear a whisper about how you have dealt with the problem later on.

But that's a different story altogether.

3. Although Customers seldom make their complaint known, dissatisfied Customers will most likely find and meet Customers with the same experience.

They will talk more about the problem and will tend to attract more people who will listen.

This explains the previous fact.

Haven't you notice that you tend to have more listener with bad news than good ones.

The uglier it is, the more glued the audience will be.

You always find more headlines with ugly...No horrible news than happy ones when you watch TV.

You notice one other thing. You never turn the TV off!

You're glued!

4. If you can resolve an issue or fix a problem of a complaining Customer, 80% of this kind of Customers will come back and will most likely make a purchase again.

You will increase this percentage to 90% if you act immediately upon notice of the complaint.

Logic would have told us that if you mess up, you should get fired as a service provider or supplier.

You don't get fired. You get 8 out 10 of them coming back!


In a crisis or if some problem comes up, this is the only opportunity you have of showing a Customer that there is an organization, process and people behind your service or product.

This is assuming you indeed have an organization, process or people behind your service or product.

By solving the problem the Customer sees you at work.

They see procedures being followed.

They get calls.

They get interviewed about a problem.

And, they see real people not machines doing something for them.

They see. They don't hear about it or get told about it.

They clearly see an action in progress.

This action in progress allows your Customer to size you up.

Know what you can do. See your capabilities.

This is why I firmly believe that an opportunity to serve under these conditions should not be passed up.

5. No technology can be a substitute for human interaction.

Even if the technology is the only contact with Customers, certain needs will eventually require some form of human contact.

The human physiology will always seek out some form of affective human interaction.

Have you heard about the "crib syndrome" that afflicts only infants?

It's been suspected that this syndrome normally happens if the baby does not experience a nurturing environment or more specifically human touch.

As early as infancy, the human physiology already exhibits the craving for human touch.

6. Treating Customers badly for any reason will eventually carry costs and consequences.

I don't believe in karma or all that esoteric beliefs.

I do believe in action and consequent reaction.

As early as high school, you've been introduced to this concept in Physics.

Human beings have a funny way of getting back at you.

Animals are more predictable because we already know how predictable or unpredictable they are.

Human beings are complex. Even if you understand their habits they don't behave exactly as expected in the same situation all the time.

When you hurt a Customer by not serving him or her well, you will be remembered.

It has nothing to do with selling principles or organization. It has to do with human nature. Pain has a way of making our memory sharper and our recall more instinctive.

The reckoning will come. It may not be now.

It will come!

More than 10 years of dealing with Customer made me a believer in this phenomenon of eventual reckoning.

7. Your reputation and credibility are directly proportional to the quality of your service and eventually to the quality of your Customer relations.

If you have good customer service, you tend to have more people talking and hearing about it. Quite naturally, you tend to have more customers. It is just consequential that you will have some kind of reputation. Hopefully you have a great reputation rather than a bad one.

Find or better yet develop the right process and team to ensure that you nurture good relationship with your customers. The stronger your relationship with customers, the more solid and enduring will be your reputation and credibility.

Your reputation is built on the relationship you keep. Who is more inclined to believe you than people or organizations who know you--Your Customers.

8. The environment in which you will establish good impressions with Customer on first contact will always be stack against you.

Remember that the Customer is the person who sets the time, the date, the place and the agenda of the visit (if you let him).

If the Customer tells you to see him in his office or place of work, he again controls the atmosphere and physical environment.

It is rarely that the Customer will see you all excited about what you are about to say, unless of course he initiates the call or ask for the appointment.

The necessity of creating first impression is lesser if the Customer initiates the call or meeting.

The Customer has more or less a clear grasp of what he wants from the meeting. He expects you to validate his wants or needs.

Normally, if the customer initiates the call he would already have certain level or scale of expectations. It's like already having 100 bonus points in his pocket for you. What you do or don't do during the meeting will just give him an incentive to keep the 100 bonus points for you or take out 5 points here, 10 points there until you got just about 50 bonus points to nothing.

If you're initiating the call, what you are really doing is grunt work. I don't care if you have undergone gazillions of sales training. If you are initiating the visit or call, everything is stack up against you.

Good luck!

9. Sophisticated Customer service or retention programs fail simply because it lacks appreciation of the universal principle of good business and good manners.

Most support services for computer systems are failing in their service ratings not because their core services are bad it's because they lack the common sense to do the simple things.

Service call request coming in by phone are not handled well.

Customers complain that they keep repeating themselves to people at the other end of the line.

Service personnel can not remember details of their complaints.

Customers' repaired units are delivered with films of dust on its surface. Smudges of greasy fingerprints on clean surfaces.

Service personnel forgot to take their trash with them or fail to return the Customer's equipment in its proper place.

Common sense dictates that you treat Customers the way you expect others to treat your daughter, son, wife or mother. Of course you will find this far from any form of common sense if you are a wife beater or child molester.

It's the reason why I always choose happy people with lots of high self-esteem after I pick them out for their common sense.

Happy people tend to have better disposition and are easier to train. They tend to handle stress better specially those created by customer interaction.

10. In an existing Customer service program, you will lose your best employee specially those with sound judgment first, (followed by the team if he is a team leader) if you don't nurture the right working environment.

Good workers specially those with sound judgment and really competent ones know what is a healthy working environment for them and their team. These are the people who are not afraid to leave when they think things are not right for them, for their colleagues and their customers.

These are the kind of people who can easily build strong relationship with customers.

There's also one good thing about these types of employees. Team members tend to be loyal to them if they become team leaders or are team leaders. They will do almost anything for them. This is usually the reason why you tend to lose your best team members right after the team leader leaves.

Take care of your team.

Create the best working environment for them specially after the launch of a successful campaign (any campaign!).

Rewards must be tailored to what motivates your team.

Remember this: Money maybe the best reason for taking on a job but it is seldom the first or significant reason for leaving one.

Team leaders (the Good Ones!) who conduct their own exit interviews of team members who leave will seldom hear money as the reason for leaving a job. If your team member refuses an exit interiview with you, you are probably the reason for leaving the company or the team.

11. The people who should be convince about your value proposition and your Customer service program should be the very people who will deliver the proposition and manage the program in the first place.

If the frontline staff themselves do not believe or have little faith in the company's customer service program, you cannot expect them to deliver the quality of service expected by customers.

On a staff-to-customer level, the customer service staff will have little empathy and will generally have little motivation to go the "extra" mile to help customers.

Frontline staff who do not believe in the very service they deliver will have no motivation to give the company feedback and in most instances will generally "conceal" the actual conditions prevailing in the field.

You must have a credible customer service program. The kind that make sense to your own people.

12. The sincerity of any Customer service program is directly proportional to the cohesiveness and effectiveness of the support teams involved in its management.

A company who is confident in the capability of its service team don't worry so much about their service contracts. Service teams that deliver according to customer standards seldom get the opportunity to handle customer complaints because problems never get out of hand too often to become a customer's problem.

You must invest time, training, tools and other resources to make your team cohesive and effective.

If you have an honest-to-goodness customer service program you will spend more time making your customer support teams more effective rather than tinkering around with the quot;waiver" or "non-liability" clause of your service contracts.

I have seen so many service contracts in my career from really good to really "plain paper useless". There are contracts that have so many waivers and clauses to pre-empt damage suits that it practically ties the hands of service personnel even if they sincerely want to help customers.

And let me add that the sincerity of any Customer Service program is also directly proportional to the distance of the CEOs office to the company's legal counsel. You really and truly are sincere if you see your lawyer less and less about customer issues.

Companies with dismal customer service performance have lawyers busy either suing customers for unpaid bills or are defending themselves against consumer rights litigation or non-performance liabilities.

13. A problem or Customer complaint is an opportunity to do better and to reinforce your Customer service policy and program.

Nothing can subject a customer service program to the most rigid acid test but a live customer making a legitimate complaint.

A good service program kicks in almost automatically upon the first contact with a complaining customer. Information about the complaint is immediately gathered while the customer's profile and details of the related purchase is reviewed. An account manager is immediately informed and made accessible to the customer.

The whole chain of events from the first receipt of the customer contact will show the customer real people acting on the complaint. The customer will be able to discern from the flurry of activities that a system is in place to assist him. Support people return calls to customer and provide feedback of the steps taken to resolve the issue.

14. A review of actions to respond to complaining or dissatisfied Customer will provide an opportunity to look into your company's internal process related to Customer Service or service delivery.

This is suppose to be a very obvious conclusion but surprisingly most of the process to support customer complaints were not really designed to resolve issues. More often the process is really a complex procedure to either evade responding or discourage customer from lodging their complaints or raise issues.

A bad process even if reviewed a hundred times is still a bad process. No amount of review will change the outcome of a bad process. Ever heard of "garbage in, garbage out"?

Good service providers know that the key to delivering good service every time is the quality of the core service, the process, the tools and the team.

When a unique incident, issue or problem comes up to test your process, a review must immediately be conducted to find out how the process responded. Did each of the component seamlessly worked from one sub-process to another? Is there a bottleneck or glitch somewhere? What conditions led to the glitch?

This is suppose to be really common sense unfortunately this "review" is not really that common.

Now we hear about quality control circles, process improvement, ISO that basically starts their methods with a review of process. Today they call it fancy names like quality assessment, quality audit, system assessment, system audit, process assessment, and all that high-sounding terms which are really designed more to make consultant's work appear complex and their costly bills easier to swallow.

15. The finer is your definition of market niche the more focus your Customer service will be.

This may not come from common sense, but marketers should already realize that the more clearly you understand your customer, the more specialized you tend to design your services around their needs. This will eventually lead to a more defined sets of distinct services for just a specific need.

A good example of this is the way Internet service providers have evolved. Before, there was really no distinction between a person using Internet services in the office and those using Internet at home. Now, you have corporate accounts, home market, and even mobile users.

Service providers, at least the most dynamic ones, are learning that they can no longer offer a smorgasboard of services and attach a single price tag for all types of customers. Customers now truly perceive a value relevant to his unique situation and buys in only from providers who can understand this perceived value.

Service providers, fortunately for customers, are no longer having a "me-too" pricing strategy. They know that those who gets the price pegged right the first time dominates a niche almost rapidly specially in a service that is technology-driven.

Marketers are now fine tuning their ability to define their niche not from a concept of who is a customer but from data taken from a customer base that they now own. This enables marketers to develop products and services that are more focus.

16. The more complex your offering the broader will be the scope of your Customer service programs.

Some customer service programs are actually born out of a service concept catering to a broader customer profile. In essence, the definition of the service is a consequence of an assumption that the customer has multi-level and multi-faceted needs. The result is a process that accommodates so many contingencies.

The customer service program is not really one homogenuous program but a complex combination of sub-programs intended to respond to different customer needs.

This condition is not inherently bad. The real issue is capital expenditure and logistical requirement. The organization that has an abundance of knowledge resource and other resources will not find customer service a real challenge even if it has a complex offering.

The challenge is how to cover a broad spectrum of customer needs without wearing yourself too thin.

17. Between a prospect and a Customer, a Customer can do more damage to you by simply not doing anything.

In terms of value, a prospect has zero Customer Value. He is not a Customer, he is still a prospect. You have already invested in a Customer, that investment will go to waste if the Customer stops interacting.

I had a Customer covered by a maintenance contract for their mainframe computer. When he came across a problem related to our service, he simply allowed the contract to lapse.

This provided an opening for a competing service provider to offer an alternative.

He got our proposal for a renewal and just sat on it for more than 30 days.

See, the Customer simply did nothing and I still lost the account.

18. The foundation and institutionalization of a good Customer service program is hinge on the creation of a seamless process and the systematic documentation of each key components to ensure consistent delivery and maintenance of quality standards.

If you are having problems keeping your customer service up, you are most likely having the following:

Customers can't understand the terms and conditions of delivery.

Your own people can't seem to understand the terms and conditions of delivery.

Service personnel don't seem to follow the same method of initiating service delivery and can't seem to improve their resolution rate or response time.

You keep losing people at a time when they are suppose to be competent enough and can't seem to get the same level and quality of productivity from their replacement.

You are responding to the same form or nature of the complaint at ever increasing frequency and still have your service people getting the response wrong every time.

You can't seem to get your competence training up and running at a level that does not demand too much time from your most senior and experienced team leaders and members.

You don't have the right people for the job.

You're delivering the wrong service to your customer because what you are delivering is not what your customer expects.

Most of these common and irritating issues I have solved by adapting only two (2) key strategies: creation of a seamless process and systematic documentation.

The identification and creation of tools plus the design and development of truly effective skills training will evolve from these two (2) strategies.

19. Two (2) key roles must be present to perpetuate a seamless process:

The leader who will be responsible for the process; and The key person or persons responsible for the results.

The definition, selection and installation of the right leader for a good team will ensure the integrity of the customer service process. A competent and effective team will ensure that service standards are achieved.

Each member of a team in a process is responsible only for the result of component of the process assigned to him. The team leader must be responsible for the process end-to-end because he is the one with a broader or over-all perspective of the customer service process.

20. When all things are equal and perfect, meaning product, service, process, organizational structure, technology, and communications, your weakest link will be two kinds of people:

The leader responsible for the integrity of the process; and, the team responsible for the quality of the results.

The weakest link in any system or process is the human component. This part of the system or process is the less predictable aspect of managing a system or process. People as part of system is simply the most volatile and also the most dynamic.

The contingencies designed for any system will almost always address the doing or undoing of human nature or its consequence. The only time human nature is less a consideration in contingencies is when the effects of the environment or extreme outcome of natural calamities are factored in.
In the customer service perspective, we focus our attention only on the leader and the team.

It is important that you build a good team and manage it well.

Stick to basics. Choose your team leader well and help him build his team.

1 comment:

katty said...

Customer service is going to be the biggest thing happening to the business world and is defined entirely by customers. Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation. Anyways,thanks for the good info!
Small Business Answering service

I'm Giving You a Free eBook: The Four Tasks To Do to Access & Use Your LinkedIn Connection Data

I started out in LinkedIn in 2004, I was just curious then. Didn’t have much expectations and it took me a couple of weeks in fac...