Companies have been talking about customer service for a long time but there has been little evidence of action.
Telling your customers that they are important to you is the easy part. Proving to them that they really count is something else entirely. And it seems that the bigger a company gets, the less it feels obliged to deliver quality service to its customers. There appears to be a growing and worrying arrogance in the communications sector, and this is tarnishing the industry’s reputation.
Lately, we have seen service providers slash their employee head counts and, at the same time, drop significant numbers of customers because they were not big enough to be profitable. How can this be right?
Surely when companies lure customers to take on their products and services, they should be obliged to deliver on their promises and treat those customers with a level of respect that they would wish to receive. The key to a long and successful business life is in developing long-term business relationships with customers.
To fail at this is a recipe for disaster. Too many companies follow the trend towards a throw-away business culture, where customer needs and aspirations are given no consideration. Instead, customers are discarded when they begin to represent something of a challenge to the service provider.
It is time to buck this trend and make a stand for excellence in customer service, and to return to the core values of business. Investment is required to support existing customers and to attract new business. Having the best people to do the job is a great starting point, but they must then be given the right tools and resources.
Customer service represents a great opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves. A company that gets its customer service offering right will stand out. What is needed is a radical change of attitude to customer service. It is not all about the cost. It is not all about exporting the service element to a cheaper offshore location for economic advantage.
Streamlining processes internally can create just the same economies while retaining a far better grip on the quality of the service that the customer receives. If the processes are in place and working well, the economies will follow.
The channel should look at customer service as a great opportunity to differentiate its offerings. Investing now is sure to pay off in the longer term. With so many getting it wrong, there is a great opportunity here to shine.
John Pepper is managing director of Minx.
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