Why do customers call customer service? Usually it’s because they have a problem, an issue or a question. In other words, they need help. Jan Carlson called these the ‘moments of truth’; when the promise made by the brand and advertising is compared with the customer’s own experience.
Every engagement with the customer is an opportunity to either develop or destroy a customer’s faith in the brand. These engagements directly impact loyalty and long term customer value. So who better to represent the company than its customer service people? Who else in the business deals in realities? The buying experience can often be, shall we say, sub-optimal.
Customers are, of course, never over-sold or told untruths but misconceptions and misunderstandings do seem to happen quite frequently. And who does the customer call? You got it, customer service. But when the customer calls you it means they are focused and engaged. So apologise for the error, be helpful and friendly, solve the customer’s problem and build rapport and re-establish trust. What better way to represent the company.
So why doesn’t it happen? And what happens to the learning that the customer service reps gather from all these engagements? Surely this is the cheapest source of research and knowledge on what doesn’t work for customers. In my experience it’s because customer service is driven by performance metrics that focus on handling the calls, not resolving customer issues. How many organizations still measure call handling time or overall service level? Too many I fear. What about customer satisfaction and first contact resolution as key measures?
It seems crazy to me that one half of the company is spending money trying to engage more with customers while the other half is trying to save money by speaking to them less. Am I being too simplistic? What do you think?