A terrific article was published in a recent issue of CRM Daily magazine. In “Poor Customer Service Paralyzing U.S. Companies,” customer service consultant Bobbi Paine stated, “Businesses are losing business they can’t afford to lose. . .as a result, poor customer service is paralyzing American companies.”The findings of a 2007 Harris Poll reported a full 80% of respondents indicated they would never do business with a company with which they have experienced a negative customer service experience. . .that number up from 68% the year before!
What on earth is going on here? According to Paine: “On-the-job rudeness, unhelpfulness and inattention to customers are becoming the norm. We’ve lost touch with the personal side of customer service, primarily because of technology.” Asked to explain this statement, Ms. Paine went on to say that online services are positives when they work, but frustrating to customers when they don’t, putting front line employees in difficult situations. She also cited that outsourced call centers in foreign settings have contributed to the problem.
Don’t business managers understand that these bad experiences are shared with family, friends and Internet connections loudly and often, to their detriment? Product and service companies need a real wake-up call here: it’s make or break time for organizations.
Even more telling, employers and employees “aren’t taking the time to get to know who their customers are.” Paine cites the fact that customers are likely to feel they have received outstanding customer service when employees are, in fact, just doing their jobs as they should be. Reason? Customers are making the comparison to the poor service they’ve received before having a satisfactory experience. . .
Surveys suggest that customers are taking more and more control of the situation and taking their business elsewhere in response to receiving poor customer service. They’ve also indicated they’re willing to pay an additional 10%–at least–in order to receive consistently better customer service.
Ms. Paine’s advice: “Let go of the idea of treating people the way you want to be treated. You need to treat people the way they want to be treated.” She advises employees to truly listen to what the customer is saying, to pay attention to their body language and tone of voice and then to ask questions to find out what they truly want/need.
* Employees should be hired based on real people skills. A nice or happy disposition, in and of itself, isn’t sufficient here.
* Customers what to know what can be done to help them–they don’t want to hear what can’t be done for them.
* Managers at every level need to have great people skills as role models within their organizations.
* If customer service is a problem within a company, an overall, cultural change must be put in place. Otherwise, no real change for the better can occur. Meaning: there has to be a commitment to making a real investment in front line employees.
“A lot of organizations feel like customer service isn’t brain surgery, but I feel it is. It’s life or death”, Ms. Paine said in conclusion.
* Why do you think companies invest so much in marketing and advertising and then fall down when the customer does come to them to purchase products or services?
* Have you experienced such poor service that you’ve panned businesses to family and friends? Have you even blogged about bad service online?
* Conversely, have you praised great service and even blogged about it, recommending specific businesses at large?
I’d love to hear from you.