Natalie Calvert looks at National Customer Service week and gives a few reasons why contact centres should be celebrating it every single week of the year.
I was once advised that the definition of ‘mixed emotions’ is your mother-in-law driving over the Severn Bridge on a very windy day! Frankly, as I don’t have a mother-in-law, that doesn’t quite work for me.
Personally, my definition of ‘mixed emotions’ is National Customer Service Week.
Why? Well, on one hand it’s absolutely brilliant that we focus the whole nation and every customer service professional on the importance of customer service. It’s great, too, that we beat our drums really loudly. However, on the other hand, doesn’t it seem madness that the customer service spotlight is for one week only: the first week in October?
Surely we, as a collective industry, should now be reaching such high standards that the rest of the nation is banging on about how fabulous every customer service moment is? But isn’t the sad truth that we are still actually way below standard?
Having said that, when all is said and done (and I get over my mixed emotions) I am a total and utter raving fan of National Customer Service Week. And so should you be too. If you weren’t celebrating at the beginning of this month, why not?
The ultimate definition of service
What is service really all about? Personally, I think that there’s nothing better to remember something with than a mnemonic. And for me, this is how service adds up:
Your job is to solve, sell (yes, sell) and support customers to have all of their needs answered: online, on-phone, in store, in the field, in or on or at wherever you chose.
There is an aura of energy and enthusiasm about you, your company and its products and services. After all, if you’re not energetic about it, why should your customers be?
There are three R’s that were first of all articulated 20 years ago by Melanie Howard, now of the Future Foundation. These really are the secrets to success:
Relationship: Build one at every opportunity – is it a customer or a call or footfall?
Relevance: Make sure all of your communications are totally relevant to their audience. It might sound logical, but 90%+ of all interactive voice response (IVR) systems demonstrate that we have not mastered this one. And remember: it’s easier to script an IVR than a human.
Reputation: Put your organisational stamp or brand in to every customer or prospect or citizen communication.
This is the WIN-WIN – for you and your customer so the customer always goes away happy, even if your product’s not available. Customer loyalty delivers so many tangible and intangible benefits. Whether you’re in the public or private sector, positive word of mouth goes a long way.
Staff must demonstrate substance – in terms of both skills and knowledge to be able to solve, sell and support the customer’s dilemmas and provide great service. How often have you heard about untrained temps being deployed throughout a company only to find that the knock-on effect ends up costing the organisation tonnes – with calls bouncing everywhere? Today’s consumer is savvy; they know when they are getting the right answer and they know when they aren’t. Be honest: just how much growth are you seeing in your escalations/complaints team right now?
Yes, they are king! Understand what that means to you, your organisation, your systems, your data, your performance management, your processes, your people and your future customer contact strategy.
It’s all about customer experience. No longer are you simply a provider or a contact centre manager or whatever else. Your job is to define, plan, implement, manage and control great experiences for customers – from the moment they touch your organisation: from the front door to the rooftops, physically and virtually. And it goes without saying that your people experience should match that of your customers.
Turning a concept in to a 24-7-365 reality
So now you know what service is all about, it’s time you started embracing the concept of National Customer Service Week year round.
Take this mnemonic and poster it around your contact centre: on mouse mats, notice boards, screensavers – the lot.
Next up, why not organise an open day in your contact centre for everyone across your organisation, and start shouting from the rooftops the wonderful things you and your team are achieving?
As I said earlier – let’s get this party started!
Natalie Calvert is managing director at the consultancy Calcom Group
Tel: +44 845 230 8500