The secret to great customer service
Call into a customer service centre for any retailer, or any business for that matter.
On a scale of 1 to 10, what level of service do you receive?
I know of very few who would get my 10 rating.
Most would be a dismal 3 or 4. Not enough to make me want to keep doing business with them.
You probably aren’t surprised that customer service complaints are on the rise.
In fact, here are three statistics from my Customer Service Crisis post that should frighten you if you have customers:
- 71% of consumers left a business relationship where a call centre agent played the largest part in a bad experience.
- 85% of consumers will retaliate against poor customer service through lost business, social media and word of mouth.
- 80% say their business could have been kept if customer service expectations were met–and they’ll share positive experiences as well.
So what’s the secret to great customer service?
In a word: culture. Most customer service agents are not direct employees of the company you’re doing business with and they don’t get paid much.
But those two issues aren’t nearly as important as the expectations placed on new customer service hires.
Sadly, most are hired with the expectation of being replaced for poor performance.
Nowhere in the service experience is this more apparent than when you hear an agent stick religiously to a “script” because the common wisdom is anyone can read the script (and therefore are easily replaced).
Put yourself in that agent’s shoes for just a moment.
When you realise that you’re not expected to be too smart, will eventually fail, and can easily be replaced, how far down does your morale sink?
How do you perform? Yeah, me too!
In fact, a 3-year study by the Harvard Business School, which surveyed over 1.2 million employees from mostly Fortune 1000 companies found that:
“In about 85% of companies employees’ more sharply declines after their first 6 months–and continues to deteriorate for years afterwards.”
Make no mistake, these kinds of results are a direct result of toxic cultureand the leadership team is directly responsible for that culture.
Here are seven changes that can begin to turn bad service and bad customer experiences around:
- Change the hiring profile to build a team that “loves to learn”. These people enjoy problem-solving, growing and being capable.
- Expect the best of each employee; recognize and reward the behaviours you want to reinforce. People generally work up-to or down-to-the expectations that are set.
- Establish and measure meaningful, coachable skills. Do away with antiquated measurements like AHT (average handle time).
- Get agents off scripts and give them everything they need to be successful problem solvers. Employ their brains, not just their butts in the seats.
- Teach them how to build relationships. Most customers want to be valued and helped in a personalized and friendly way. That’s not so hard!
- Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Coach every employee to become more valuable and productive, in a positive, supportive way.
- In the biggest culture shift of all: put employees first customers second. If that doesn’t make sense, ask yourself how many disgruntled, half-hearted employees does it take to lose a customer? Your customer satisfaction scores are a direct reflection of your employee satisfaction scores.
Culture is a mindset, but more than that, it’s behaviours.
Behaviours speak the truth.
Changes in culture can come hard, but fearless commitment pays off.
Start with your frontline workers.
Don’t like their performance?
Look upstream for the root causes in leadership behaviours and culture – it’s likely you’re getting just what you ask for.