This weekend you might have been fooled by Nick Jablonka’s festive ‘spoof’ of the beloved John Lewis Christmas advert, which already has everyone talking. Jablonka’s advert was actually part of his A-Level Media coursework. By Sunday the video had been viewed more than 375,000 times. If a student can rival the John Lewis Christmas advert, then you can do your best to rival them as one of the top companies in the UK for customer service.
There’s no excuse when it comes to good customer service, it’s something we can all learn, we just need to know where to make the improvements.
1 – Knowledge & Experience
You may never have worked in customer service before but you could have spent the last ten years in a role which has given you the skills and prepared you to excel in that position. Companies need to look at the people they have in place and realise that development of current staff is crucial not only for morale but also to highlight the talent they already employ, rather than choosing to outsource. Consider putting together a skills matrix, a graph or spreadsheet of the main tasks your business completes and who within the company;
- Requires full training
- Requires some training
- Could complete the tasks assisted
- Could complete the tasks unaided but with review
- Is fully Trained
- You might find that certain areas need some work or that you’ve misjudged your staff’s capabilities.
2 – Stop treating the contact centre as a separate entity to your business.
Departments that work together stay together. If your contact centre is performing well, communicating effectively and helping customers, all other departments need to be performing at the same level, so as not to drag other sections of the business down. Contact centres are a hub of communication, there’s no excuse for this being ineffective. Interdepartmental communication can be a challenge, with various managers, team relationships and probably a particular approach.
In order to appreciate why interdepartmental strategising is so important, look at what the contact centre is responsible for and how this relates to other aspects of the business. Talking to customers, your staff will learn about their common queries, how they prefer to get in touch, what they like and dislike about the company. All of this knowledge will affect how you as a company decide on your marketing, your services, your FAQs and how these are presented to the customer.
Vice Versa this is just as important, what use is great customer service if your contact centre staff don’t currently know what is being marketed or offered or can’t tell your customers where to go on your website to find what they’re looking for? Integrate the contact centre into your whole business.
3 – Using a Net Promoter Score
This index ranges from -100 to 100, it looks at your customer’s behaviour and measures how willing they are to recommend or criticise your business to others. It works by measuring your customer’s experience and is based on their answers to common survey questions like; “How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?”
The customer’s response then fits them into one of three groups;
- Promoters – A score of 9-10 – Loyal customers who are most likely to continue to buy or engage with your company whilst also recommending you to others, encouraging growth of the business.
- Passives – A score of 7-8 – These people are happy with your service but are not overly enthusiastic and are more likely to seek other competitive brands.
- Detractors - A score of 0-6 – Customers who provide this score are dissatisfied, they can impede company growth and damage the brand through negative feedback.
If you have this information about your customers, then that’s a good start, but what will really set you apart from the rest is what you choose to do with it. If you’re continually getting poor reviews or feedback on one product or service then act upon this and make improvements. It’s also a great way to highlight what your customers love about your company. Don’t make the mistake that many do by collecting this information and letting it gather dust, act on your NPS.
4 – Spoiled for choice.
When you visit a major retailer now and click contact us, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to getting in touch. There’s emails, phone, post, live chat, call back service, social media, text service – which gives your customer choice and convenience. Your agents need to be trained across the board of communication, transitioning from one channel to another should be as smooth as transferring a call.
What if your contact centre’s customer service over the phone was impeccable but when it came to emails, they were littered with poor grammar and the queries your customers were getting in touch about, were frequently ignored or not fully resolved?
You’d realise that your multichannels need to be integrated, meaning all channels of communication must adhere to the same quality and standard as your main method of customer service. Firstly, you and the customer must identify what each channel is best suited to dealing with. For example, social media queries are usually a place where customers will vent their frustration or praise, whereas it’d be a poor choice of platform for making sales. Discover the strengths and weaknesses of each method of communication, and then you can look at where best to direct a customer to assist them.
5 – Think you’re ready to rival the top dogs now?
Even the top 50 adopt a culture of continuous improvement, they don’t become lackadaisical once The Telegraph pops them on the ‘Best companies for customer service’ list, because they know that there are always ways to improve customer service or avoid a bad review and unhappy customers.
Avoid the failure demand, whereby a customer is getting in touch because the company has failed to do something or failed to do it right, it’s within your control to turn things around. Failure demand is the scenario where the customer is in touch for the second or even third time because something they requested hasn’t yet been done or solved.
Are your agents limited in what they can do to assist a customer? Is the customer’s issue passed on to another department? Then it’s time to read over point three again and see if there’s something that can be done to unify your departments and improve their communication.
Who knows, maybe after tackling these points we’ll be seeing you here next year?