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Get customer service right for firm growth

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Summary

  • Customer service had previously been seen as an after-thought, part of after-sales activity. But, it is now seen as integral to the success and failure of an organisation.
  • The CSW is dedicated to increasing recognition of this importance.
  • It offers an opportunity for organisations to reflect on where they are in their customer service journey and what they can do to ensure that service sits at the heart of their purpose.

The Customer Service Week was celebrated internationally between October 4 and October 8. Customer Service Week (CSW) is an international celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve and support customers on a daily basis.

Local companies were not left out in the celebrations and I received a couple of messages in acknowledgment of the CSW.

Customer service had previously been seen as an after-thought, part of after-sales activity. But, it is now seen as integral to the success and failure of an organisation. The CSW is dedicated to increasing recognition of this importance.

It offers an opportunity for organisations to reflect on where they are in their customer service journey and what they can do to ensure that service sits at the heart of their purpose and vision.

Research shows that organisations that are above average in customer satisfaction levels receive the customer service dividend. This dividend include effortlessly achieving revenue growths approaching 10 percent year-on-year.

Below are four elements that can assist with creating and enhancing customer service excellence.

A Customer Service Call to Arms

A company could have the best strategy but without good customer service delivery practices, the strategy will never succeed.

Customer service is a state of mind, an attitude, and a practice that can make or break your business. Companies should, as a matter of survival, look for ways to reignite their passion for excellent customer service.

Upholding and exceeding industry service delivery standards will not only drive progress and growth, but will also set your company apart from the competition.

Companies that create high customer service awareness create confidence and partnership with its customers and excellent customer service delivery instead becomes a right to a customer, not a privilege, is delivered all the time, and has a positive impact on organisational performance.

Technological Innovation Pressures

Changing technology, regulation and disruption mean that we need to place greater focus on ethics, sustainability and authenticity.

More than ever, we need to be clear about our purpose and who we are serving and why. Customers need to be at the heart of every organisation, or they simply will not last.

As more and more transactions move to digital channels, greater focus is required to ensure employees are skilled in areas such as customer experience design, data and technology.

A key point, however, is that technology can only ever be part of the solution, not the total solution.

There will always be a need for the human touch. Some customers welcome digital and self-service pathways and they actually prefer not to speak to anyone most of the time. Other customers are the opposite and want to speak to someone whenever possible.

Organisations must cater for both in a manner that is satisfactory. Like with any new process, there will never be a time when we attain total unanimity in all areas.

Accordingly, not all customers would want to talk to an automated customer interphase at all. Research have found that nearly four-fifths of customers believe it is important to be able to speak to a person when they have a complex or sensitive issue, a complaint or a query about a bill.

Many are also wary about their personal data being accessed or stored to facilitate automated processes.

Customer Service and Disruptions

So much has changed through the Covid-19 pandemic and we simply do not yet know the full extent of the impacts on how we live and work.

As businesses navigate all the uncertainties surrounding Covid-19 pandemic in an already volatile environment, it becomes more important than ever that organisations stay resilient and hold to their values and their purpose.

Customer service is about a whole culture and mind-set that should last all year round, all of the time. The organisations that put the service agenda front and centre week in, week out will be the ones that truly reap the full benefits.

To deliver meaningful work in a new and ever-shifting environment, the traditional principles of leadership are as important as ever.

Demonstrating honesty, fairness and integrity will be crucial to maintaining a positive and productive working environment in a hybrid world of remote and physical work environments.

The shift to hybrid working also brings with it the need for a new set of skills for employees across all levels.

An increased number of complex customer issues places skills such as empathy, problem-solving and customer relationships higher on the agenda than ever before.

The priority for organisations must be to work out which customer service journeys are most suited to which channels and method of servicing.