I am passionate about exceptional customer service and the difference the right people can make to the customer experience, so I am excited about this year’s National Customer Service Week. With 70% of the UK’s working population dealing with customers in their job, it’s a week promoting the customer service industry and the role customer satisfaction can play in driving business performance.
What would your customers rate as their highest priority when it comes to service? The world is changing faster than ever before and as customers we are all much more used to new technology and the speed and convenience of service this brings. But while we, as businesses, are all investing in new software and Apps to streamline the customer service experience for our clients, is this what they really want?
The recent UKCSI research from the Institute of Customer Service, which is a national measure of customer satisfaction based on over 10,000 respondents, would say no. While some rate the use of technology and speed of service quite highly, the top four customer priorities were all related to people: the competence of staff; staff doing what they say they will; helpfulness; and handling of complaints.
This is reassuring for us as a front of house businesses, where people are our product, and it also highlights the fact that customers still prefer personal interactions. And the way these interactions are handled can make or break their experience.
The customer experience, from the moment they call your switchboard or walk into your reception to the time they leave your meeting rooms or office, should be seamless and every interaction they have with any member of your team should be genuine and authentic.
Our key role as customer service specialists is about making our clients’ lives easier and removing any barriers that might be in the way to ensure a seamless journey through the buildings in which we work. Making this happen is down to the tools we give our teams to do the job.
Clients don’t want robotic interactions, they want someone who genuinely knows what they’re doing and is able to help. I believe training is a crucial factor in getting this right. Not just the ‘what to do’ training but ‘how to do it’ behavioural training, as well as the ‘why we do it’, which highlights the mind-set of service. This way teams instinctively recognise what a customer is feeling, empathise with them and deal with a situation in a natural way.
Team members in a customer service environment must want to be there and need to be empowered to really serve customers. If they are given the power to make it happen they can tailor the experience to the specific customer in front of them by identifying exactly what they want and need.
It’s all about the people, so say over 10,000 survey respondents, so let’s celebrate that.
Conrad Dean is Managing Director for Mitie’s client services business