If you want to get Customer Service right, start with the basics

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A quick look at LinkedIn and you find a plethora of CX experts wanting to strategise and theorise but often ignoring some of the fundamental basics needed to deliver sustainable best in class CX. Put simply, there’s no point building a house on foundations of sand. 

Here are a few simple questions you need to ask yourself as a business:

1. Do you truly care about the service you offer?

This seems like a pretty fundamental question but unless it is confronted, poor decisions will be taken. If your business isn’t interested in CX then that’s your right, just stop pretending to be. But let’s assume you do care and ask yourself more questions

2. Does every member of staff understand their role, the desired outputs, and how their role contributes to the customers’ experience?

Or are people confused, working to 12 different metrics, many of which conflict with each other?

I once asked 8 Contact Centre Agents what their role was and received 8 different answers. There is little hope of delivering great CX when employees are not clear what their role actually is?  Staff need a clarity of purpose and a set of metrics (as few as possible) that align to it. Without this, CX is dependent on each individual person and inconsistency will reign.

3. Are you comfortable with the service standards you offer your customers and more importantly, are you hitting them?

There are few things more frustrating that sitting on hold for 25 minutes waiting for the phone to be answered listening to a message every 30 seconds that says ‘your call is really important to us’. If it was important, you would have answered it. So if service metrics are broken, go fix them, now!

4. Do you know what customers think of the service you provide and where they tell you that you are falling short, do you listen and act?

Get this right and customers loyalty will increase. However, get it wrong and you will find yourself in trouble. I gave my bank some feedback that having to call to cancel a card was both difficult and inconvenient, particularly as they were an online bank, I received a standard ‘we have no plans to change this’ reply. A loyal and long-standing customer provided meaningful feedback but there was no discussion, no engagement, no understanding. That’s ok, they have no plans to change, but I now have plans to change my bank.  

Talk to customers, listen to their feedback, treat complaints as opportunities, give customers what they are asking for, or if you are unable to, explain why and offer an alternative.

5. Are your staff rewarded adequately for what we ask of them?

Many companies will profess to be serious about CX, but then pay customer facing staff minimum wage, all the while expecting more and more from them. There are significant cost implications of higher salaries for a large headcount, but the benefits to absence, attrition, engagement, and yes, customer advocacy will often outweigh the additional cost.

These are the foundations upon which great CS/CX can be built, without them we see what we have been seeing all too regularly:

  • Bots that simply say, ‘computer says no’
  • Customers being processed as opposed to served
  • Huge call wait times
  • IVRs that effectively scream ‘GO AND USE THE WEBSITE IDIOT’
Start with the basics and build from there.

Anthony Heald has a long track record of delivering outstanding CX results and has spent the last 20 years leading Contact centres driving improvements for brands such as Shop Direct, Vodafone, Car Phone Warehouse and O2 Insure.

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