World Class Service Gets WOM GoingApril 1, 2008
When it comes to customer service there’s myth and then there’s reality. CEO’s and senior managers will proclaim that “customers are the key to our success”. This for many companies is a myth. The reality is that customer service around the world is either stagnating or declining. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), customer satisfaction with the goods and services that Americans buy declined in the fourth quarter of 2007.
It’s no wonder that customer satisfaction is so poor. Despite their pronouncement about the importance of customer, management actions often convey the opposite impression. Customer service is viewed as a cost that must be controlled. Front line customer service representatives, the face of the company to customers, are in most cases the lowest paid employees in the company. There is usually high burn-out and turnover rates in customer service. Very few people remain in customer service, instead it is seen as an entry level position, by both management and employees. As a result little is done in most companies to enrich the job of customer service representatives or do anything to reduce burnout.
What you have then are relatively inexperienced, low paid, burned out employees dealing with the very “keys to our success” the customers. How can customer service be anything but poor.
Companies with great customer service are usually the companies that are most successful even during economic downturns. Their customers rave about them and tell others. Companies that provide world class service, Amazon.com, Nordstrom, Lexus to name a few truly put customers at the top of the list.
With customer service being at such low levels, we have lowered customers expectations in terms of how they are treated. This is an opportunity for businesses to make an impression with their customers by simply increasing the level of service they provide to their customers. Front line employees need to be empowered and feel empowered to do whatever is reasonably possible to satisfy a customer. Given the state of customer service today it may not take much to get customers talking if you focus on service.