According to a recent survey recently conducted by Tealeaf, a leading customer experience management company, one key element to surviving an economic downturn is excellent customer service. This is a huge opportunity for companies (like yours) willing to significantly improve their customer service, as this enables you to stand out among your competition.

By providing world class customer service, and listening to what the customer needs and wants, you are more able to satisfy your customer’s needs. This allows you to not only retain the loyalty of existing customers, but through positive word-of-mouth, procure new ones without massive spending on marketing and advertising.  

This is vital since these same survey results showed that in the online market in particular, 4 out of 10 people stopped doing all business with a company after just one incidence of poor customer service.  A favorite expression of mine (I don’t know who said it) is you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!

Listening is a major component in customer service.  I just finished reading A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink.  He reports research from twenty years ago when doctor-patient encounters were videotaped.  They found that the doctors interrupted their patients after an average of 21 seconds.  A more recent study shows that doctors have improved.  It’s now 23 seconds before they interrupt (p. 110). 

While we can all probably relate and even chuckle, if we move this to the customer service arena, what happens?  Customers don’t get listened to.  And what do customers want?  What do we all want?  To be treated with dignity and respect, and most of all, to be heard!

It isn’t that people don’t want to hear what’s being said.  Oftentimes the intentions are good.  We want to do our best job in the shortest time possible.  What ends up happening is you listen for the pause to jump in and take the person where you think they want to go (which may or may not be accurate).  If you’re listening for the pause, you are not listening to the person so you have no idea what they have said and usually they repeat it and actually extend the contact! 

In today’s world repetitive, routine, ‘just the facts, mam’ issues can be handled through self service usually efficiently and effectively.  Therefore, the more complex, complicated, and excelerated calls are necessitating human contact. 

Tools, techniques, common phraseology, and language are just a few requirements for world class customer service. 

But are these taught in school?  No.  These are introduced in customized, live, interactive training sessions delivered in real time.  Is this a cost to bear?  No.  This is about investing in your people.  Usually the lowest paid person has the highest responsibility of contact with the current and potential customers.  There are KPI (Key Performance Indicators) that can be directly positively impacted by customer service skills training.

What needs to be included?  Obviously communication and (pro-active) listening; rapport building, anger diffusion, option offerings, and the like.

After all, as you’ve heard me say many times, we, the people, are who make the difference.

ROSANNE D’AUSILIO, Ph.D., industrial psychologist, consultant, master trainer, best selling author, executive coach, customer service expert, and President of Human Technologies Global, specializes in human performance management.  providing needs analyses, instructional design, and customized, live customer service skills trainings and executive/leadership coaching.  Also offered is agent / facilitator university certification through Purdue University’s Center for Customer Driven Quality.

 

Known as ‘the champion of the human,’ she authors 5 best sellers Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub  4th ed, Customer Service and the Human Experience, Lay Your Cards on the Table: 52 Ways to Stack Your Personal Deck , How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: 101 Insider Tips, and hot off the press How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: ANOTHER 101 Insider Tips, at http://www.customer-service-expert.com

 

Rosanne is also a Certified Call Center Benchmarking Auditor through Purdue University‘s Center for Customer Driven Quality.  This certification training focuses on the access and use of key performance data to help better understand benchmarking results so as to advise on practical solutions for improvement.

 

For 10 years prior to starting her own organization, Rosanne had responsibility for marketing, budgeting, promoting and ultimately producing domestic and international computerized trade shows in the US, London, Belgium, and Frankfurt.   She inaugurated, created, trained and directed a telemarketing on-site staff and was one of the first 150 people to attain CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) certification in 1987.                                                                  

 

She is a columnist for TMCnet.com and Ask the Expert at supportindustry.com.  She represents the human element on the Advisory Board of an Italian software company, authors numerous articles for industry newsletters, and is a much sought after dynamic, vibrant, internationally prominent keynote speaker.