Many organisations claim to be customer focused and have good customer service, but a significant number actually do not offer good customer service. There can be a number of reasons for this, but a key reason is the mind-set, not of the people in call centres but of the senior management team. Just the name call centres indicates the mind-set isn’t about customer service but about giving the customers a contact point (in the hope they stay as customer and not just move on ?).
I find there is a mind-set issues when an organisation justify their call centres at a different continent to the customers with it lowers the cost of the operation (and why lower cost is good), in this case it was Virgin Media – that in response to a comment where I pointing out the poor customer service offered from centres at a different continent. Lower cost, and so what? Tell me what it does for me as a customer please! What is your mind-set, customer or company first? Do you see your call centre as a cost or as way to ensure your customer are happy about being your customer?
Two organisations I have experience having the mind-set for customer are A. J. Taylor Electrical Contractors and the more well know Marks and Spencer – their responses to a suggestion I gave them was specific and relevant and not just a standard script quickly modified to make it look like it was a response written to my letter. The response showed an interest and commitment to learn and listen to customers and not just treat the interaction as something that should be executed as cheap as possible.
Responding to customers, that being a phone call, a tweet, a blog post, isn’t the same as good customer service – it requires engaging with customers and a mind-set of using interactions as a way to learn and improve. Talking to customer is PR, talking with customer can be customer service if the mind-set is there. There is a subtle difference that gives the mind-set away, do you respond to your customers or do you engage with them ?
Fortunately social media is increasingly making it visible to potential customers if an organisations has a mind-set of customer service or not – hopeing to keep poor service “secret” is not an option anylonger. I hope this will increase the quality of customer service.
Just as I was typing this post an email from a friend popped up saying “Psyching myself up for another evening call to AOL Bombay….. a friend tells me O2 has their call centre in the UK. Sounds good to me”. My conclusion: Good customer service sells !