As 2011 draws to a close, many of us are putting together Holiday Wish Lists. Working in the Customer Service industry, here is my wish list for the changes I would like to see in 2012 to ensure that all of us have a better consumer experience.
I would like to see…
1. Consumers recognizing superior performance by front-line staff members and communicating this via social media postings so their friends and family members know where to find associates who are well educated about the products, who share their knowledge with consumers and who make consumers feel their business is valued.
2. Companies reaching out to their customers to solicit input and gauge their consumer community’s reaction prior to making changes to products or service, increasing fees or pricing.
3. Both online and brick and mortar retail establishments continuing to re-tool their hiring and training of front-line staff to ensure that every associate who interacts with a customer is engaging, respectful and understands that their primary goal is to make a great first impression and to provide superior customer service.
4. More businesses adopting customer service technologies to meet the consumer demand for 24/7 service. With smart phones and mobile devices, consumers expect companies to have service associates to interact with them when they have an issue or a question in real time. Companies need to address these needs to stay competitive.
5. All customer service departments reporting directly to the CEO. The customer is still any company’s greatest asset. Having a function that includes the word “customer” needs to get top billing and exposure within the corporate world. Customer service needs to be at the top of the organization chart. In too many companies it’s the lowest link in the chain.
6. Compensation for front-line staff being totally reevaluated in almost every organization. Associates who are effective in engaging consumers, generating repeat business and providing personalized service should be compensated as professionals. Businesses should understand their greatest opportunity for growth is by developing personal connections with their consumers, whether their products or services are marketed through brick and mortar or e-commerce sites. Front-line associates are the focal point in making these connections.
7. Institutions of higher learning seizing the opportunity to create a business curriculum that focuses on customer service as a specific major. A degree in customer service should be equal to other professional occupations such as accountants, teachers, social workers, etc.
For this holiday season, let’s extend our appreciation to those front-line associates that appreciate us and never take our business for granted.