Accountability, business Support, Customer Service, Customer Service Culture, Feedback, Organisation, People Skills

The Modern Customer Service Culture Series ‘Feelings – part 1’

We love our customers...really!

Welcome to the first in my blog series on modern customer service culture.

As the series progresses we will dive deeper into the mentality of customer service providers and how ultimately, this will impact on your customers and your business. Hopefully, with a few great tips along the way!

This first episode is ‘feelings – part 1’. Feelings is sometimes considered dirty word in corporate business but it genuinely is the very core of all service.

This is a glossy post beginning to touch on how feelings shape our customer experience and we will continue to explore this in more depth in next few episodes.

My entire career has been focused on the customer experience and I have worked predominantly on what most people consider the ‘dirty’ end of the stick. You know, the one where I have to say NO a lot. The end of the stick where I am investigating the root cause of an issue, the liability of the company and the best way to serve the customer within those parameters. I believe that this can provide the truest reflection of how a customer feels about how they have been treated reflects on their feedback.

For the last seven years I have worked in the UK New build industry as a regional Customer Care Manager for one developer and a Customer Relations Manager for another. I regularly lost count of the amount of times a day I would hear phrases like “I don’t know how you do it” or “I couldn’t do your job” or “It must get you down being moaned at all day”. I always felt that customer service was seen as a bit of a calling and a tough or unpleasant one at that.

Truthfully, it really does take a certain kind of person to thrive within this niche and it is my belief that the vast majority of people feel somewhat negatively about the customer service industry in general, particularly for high value products.

For the most part people appear to equate value with expectation and expectation with level of service. Simply put, there is an assumption that the higher the cost of the item the greater the customers expectations are in regards to the level of service they should receive.

Fundamentally whether it is in relation to a £50 product or service, or whether it’s a £800,000 purchase it generates an emotional response. I strongly believe that not acknowledging this is where modern customer service departments fail.

Modern technology for tracking and reporting is fantastic and can provide a quick and  simple 24 hour service if managed correctly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t acknowledge how this process has made a customer feel. We are clearly heading towards a self-service society. This is seen as a way to reduce costs, yet we market it as a modern evolution that the customers have asked for, this is both a positive and a negative and if you want to be a real pioneer in this you need to acknowledge its place and address the elephant in the room – as customers we want convenience but we do not want to be a statistic.

We need to appreciate that innovation and the ability to log and communicate in line with modern technology is a fundamentally good move in terms of accessibility as well as cost but lets face it, if you are looking to promote good customer service in the hopes of generating good reviews then you have to look at the bigger picture. You have to look at why a customer returns or why they give feedback.

People review and recommend based on how you made them feel, positive comments on the tech is simply a by product of feeling good about the service or feeling bad about the service. It’s not quantifiable but it is true. You only have to look at social media, review sites like trust pilot etc. to see that people review based on their emotional responses to the service that they have received.

They don’t always remember who they spoke with and they wont always get the answer they had hoped for but they will always remember how they were made to feel.

I can tell you one of mine. Last year I booked a minibus for a hen party. I checked reviews, I spoke to the team and I felt confident that it was the right provider. It cost several hundred pounds and I had regular email correspondence to confirm date/time/locations and then subsequently to remind me of the booking. Great.

The hen party started with a bang and I had 16 very drunk women waiting for their ride to the bar we were going to out of town. IT. DIDN’T. SHOW. UP.

I called, I left voicemails, I emailed, I called their out of hours number. To this day I have not had a single call back nor email.

I ended up paying another company out of my own pocket in cash that evening who pulled a hail Mary for me and got us to the bar on time. But I never got a response from the company that had failed me.

For several days after I tried to get in touch and I didn’t even receive a courtesy acknowledgement. Finally, against my better customer service judgement I tweeted them. I was replied to within the hour with a ’email us on this address and we will get back to you, sorry for your inconvenience’ message. It was the email address I must have emailed 15 times already. I was livid.

I ended up threatening legal action as they had failed to provide a service or product and still had my money. Within 2 days the money was in my account but I still never received an acknowledgement.

I reviewed them poorly and I shared that review on all of my social media platforms.

I got my refund but my experience of their aftercare service left me feeling awful. I cried for days. It ruined the rest of my evening as well as the following week. It gave me a migraine and it made me feel like I had let down my girls.

I reviewed them poorly because the way their service made me feel was awful. It didn’t help that they didn’t come through with the ride but I appreciate unforeseen circumstances. What I don’t appreciate is battling through being ignored in order to be acknowledged as a human being.

Take a moment as we draw this post to a close and think back to something that you purchased and had to speak to the customer service team about because it wasn’t quite what you expected.

Did you follow that up with a review? Why? If you did was it positive or negative?

 

**Disclaimer** Opinions noted in this post are mine and mine alone. They are in no way affiliated with any of my previous employers.

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