Customer Service is often the most problematic part of any business. Whether you’re managing real estate contracts, selling products you source from overseas, or creating services to help others, you need to ensure your customer service is top notch.
Unfortunately, customer service reps are usually the lowest-skilled employees in the company, and few companies want to risk overspending on customer service. This can lead to major issues if not handled well. Your customer service department will never be better than the people who work in that department. Paying the managers better does not help ensure a smooth customer experience, because the managers are not usually the ones on the phone making first impressions. You have to invest at the lowest level. And that is something few companies want to do.
There is also the fact that customer service reps take a high volume of incoming calls from frustrated people who are not having their best day. By the time that caller gets to the overworked and stressed agent, things are near the breaking point. As a business owner, you should try calling your own customer service department and count the number of frustrating interactions you have with robotic voice prompts and a phone tree designed to ensure you give up before talking to a person. You would be at the boiling point as well.
You will increase your profits with improved customer service. It is more cost effective to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. Good customer service helps you retain happy customers rather than bleed frustrated ones. You can do this by improving other parts of your business such as the following:
Better Fulfillment, Logistics, and Contracts
Ecommerce fulfillment can make or break the customer experience. Satisfied customers are easier to serve when they do have a problem, such as delayed shipping or receiving the wrong order. You have your best shot at creating a long term customer if they have a good initial experience with their online purchase.
Your choice of fulfillment options can make the difference between how your next contact with that customer goes. If their order takes too long to arrive, they go from excited to frustrated. When that happens, the calls start to pour in. And those calls are never good. By the time they receive the product, their disposition toward the experience has soured.
Small issues that would be overlooked by a happy customer are blown out of proportion by unhappy customers. The chain of discontent began with order fulfillment that didn’t meet expectations. The next time that customer needs to buy that same product, they will look elsewhere to find it. This is true regardless of the cost of the product. A poor choice of fulfillment solutions can cost you thousands per customer. A good choice can turn a one-time customer into a lifelong customer.
Better Human Resources leads to happier employees. And happy employees are more productive employees. Workers at the lower end of the responsibility scale often feel like they are of negligible importance to the company, and that they have no place to turn when there are problems at work. Because HR is a slow process, little issues can eventually become big crises.
Customer service is a hard job even in the best of times. But when coupled with an unresponsive management, employee churn is the result. When customer service reps have a safe place to bring issues and feel heard when they bring them, small issues can stay small and end in resolution rather than acrimony. Costly HR mistakes headline a long parade of cautionary tales for new businesses. When HR is at their best, workers at every level can be at their best.
When a person is already frustrated because of the time it took them to reach a human, the last thing they need are more delays due to an unresponsive technology stack. Customers have ceased being patient with apologies for the computer system or network being slow or finicky. Customer service reps who need to cold call customers are at an even greater disadvantage if the technology doesn’t work properly.
If you are not giving your customer service agents the proper tools to mitigate issues quickly and accurately, you are contributing to the customer service nightmares that cost companies good customers.
At the end of the day, customer service is one of the toughest jobs in the company. You can make it run a lot more smoothly and profitably by improving fulfillment, HR, and IT.