Is customer service dead?
Recently my wife and I bought a car from a national second-hand car dealership, however, it was a less than smooth experience with several basic factors going wrong from the start.
Some of these issues were
The car dealership cancelled our first booking the morning of the test drive which they then rescheduled for a few days later, that one ending up being cancelled as well.
When we turned up to test drive the car although it had a ‘full valet’ we found a sweet wrapper and bobby pin behind one of the seats.
We were told to take the wrong information for the financing
There were a total of 11 issues that I would class as significant
Although the challenges we faced were annoying I did not have a problem with these, as problems are always going to occur. The thing that really annoyed me though was no one offered an apology, we were gingerly offered £100 as compensation which at less than 0.5% of the car value felt more like a shrug off than an apology. What would have been helpful was a set of mats which we asked if they could throw in as compensation for the issues we had experienced. We received a no. Their reasoning was they could not make ‘modifications’ to the vehicle, fine, can we buy some mats with the £100 credit you have offered us (the cost of the mats was £79) once again we received a no as this was another department who was not open on Saturdays so we would need to go back on Monday to purchase these.
They once again offered the £100 which at this stage felt more like an insult than compensation as it was beginning to be forced with an underlying tone of ‘Why won’t they accept our £100?’ A simple, genuine apology that we had to be there for over 4 hours with a newborn baby married with some old fashioned customer service would have had us all giggling about the situation but as it ended out we came out annoyed and vowed never to buy from this company again.
On our drive home, my wife and I discussed what went wrong with the purchase and how it could have been resolved with customer service, how we would have acted differently if we were the sales agent and the most interesting topic, is customer service still a thing?
Customer service in its simplest form is supporting your clients and customers before, during and after their interaction with the company regardless of if they decided to buy your product or service or not. The aim is to make sure they have an enjoyable and smooth experience meeting or exceeding their expectations.
Good customer service can help your company do more than just have a happy customer, good customer service can help your business grow as it is said that if a happy customer leaves they will tell between 6-8 other people, also in a recent study 68% of customers survived said they would be happy to spend more money for the same product or service because of good customer service. (https://www.oberlo.co.uk/blog/customer-service-statistics) This is probably why there are more and more companies outsourcing their training and customer service delivery. As of 2020 outsource customer service was a £5.5 Billion industry.
But what makes good customer service?
I believe that good customer service comes down to nothing more than core values and culture. These outline how the company should behave when, as we experienced things go wrong, therefore did we experience bad customer service or a bad culture where the staff are asked no more than to extract money out of the customer regardless of the experience they have?
In a 2020 report by Zendesk, they asked what is most important when receiving customer service, what the report shows is that people care more about the speed at which they get a response rather than the quality of the response, which could be a reason why more and more companies are turning to AI bots and automated services or outsourcing to a foreign call centre with a flow chart so they can give an immediate response but with the more we outsource and automate, especially when it comes to a companies interaction with their clients is this the best method or is this leading the company down to a situation where they are teaching their employees that client experience is not any longer important?
What is the best way to build a brand for the long term? In a word: culture. - Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness
What about the core values of the previously mentioned car company? Their core values as stated on their website are
We are proud of what we do, how we do it and the people who make it happen – we stand out from the crowd and are proud to work as part of our Team.
Honest - We speak the truth and give honest feedback at all times, this applies to our teams, investors and customers. Courage and honesty is the vehicle for positive change and our Team has embraced this.
Happy - We enjoy what we do and we show it – a smile is contagious and our teams wear them naturally with pride. A happy team makes for a better working environment, which in turn translates to a great customer experience.
We have a ‘one team ethos and understand that together we achieve more. We are a united team focused on a common goal and vision and will always help our customers and colleagues alike #Driving dreams®.
Now compare these to some of the most recognised brands that are known for their core values and customer experience-
Performance: Sport is the foundation for all we do and executional excellence is a core value of our Group.
Passion: Passion is at the heart of our company. We are continuously moving forward, innovating, and improving.
Integrity: We are honest, open, ethical, and fair. People trust us to adhere to our word.
Diversity: We know it takes people with different ideas, strengths, interests, and cultural backgrounds to make our company succeed. We encourage healthy debate and differences of opinion.
We believe that we are on the face of the Earth to make great products.
We believe in the simple, not the complex.
We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.
We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
We do not settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we are wrong and the courage to change.
Core values need to be specifically relevant to the company and services that they offer, from the example above ADIDAS, Apple and Disney all have at least one core value that you would be surprised not to see on there, for example, if Disney did not list storytelling you would be concerned as everything they do tells a story, even the bins in Disney World tell a story. When Walt Disney was building the first Disney World he would eat hot dogs between bins to make sure they were the right distance apart so that the park was always clean and tidy.
The core values that the car company has are very washy, therefore can their company culture be built off the back of Proud, Honest, happy and supportive, how are these measured against what the company delivers and could you interview them?
Interviewer - Are you an honest person?
Candidate - Yes (he lied)
I believe that even with the increase in automated customer service channels including a hotel in Japan that was completely run by robots that closed in 2019 after being open for just 4 years, there is still a huge urge for face to face interactions by people who live and breathe their companies core values and therefore deliver good customer service.
Even though people prefer speed over quality when it comes to customer service all you have to do is look at the reports through Covid 19 that shows how people prefer interaction over automation. If you look at a single example of Zoom which was downloaded 485 Million times in 2020 compared to the 16 Million times in 2019 it is clear that as a species we like to interact more than the odd phone call and email which until Covid 19 is how most of us interacted when not in the office. It also reported that only 11% have voted not to return to the office and would rather stay at home.
We are a society and species that like basic human interaction and because most interaction is now done with friends through text messaging this is something that has to be taught in the workplace through core values and culture management if this is taught and nurtured correctly it can not do anything but improve customer service in a business, make happier clients and make the company more money.
If you are interest in learning more about how a Bailey Dean Consultant can help you improve your customer service book a meeting using the button below.
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