In his blog post titled, “Is Customer Service Getting Worse?
” Shep Hyken quotes Barak Eilam, the CEO of NICE to answer his own question. “Customer service isn’t getting worse. Customer service is getting harder.” It’s getting harder because customers are better informed, not only about products but also about every aspect of service, all the way to shipping.
Between Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor, and retail sites too numerous to mention, customers already know how others liked the product, what they paid for it, and what issues they may have had with your employees. By the time they get to the front of the line, they are likely to be armed with an unprecedented amount of information and have an expectation of what their experience will be. If you’re Zappos and you’re living up to a spectacular service reputation, that’s a great thing. If you’re not… well, it makes it more challenging. And whatever happens, it's likely that your customers will be quickly communicating their experience to a network of friends and strangers.
To really provide a great customer experience, products and services must live up to brand reputation. What’s more your customer service reps need the right tools, including the information and authority to do the right thing for your customers. It is only with the confidence that they can really help people that your customer service team will be convincing as advocates for the consumer.
Hyken suggests, “A good start is to identify… all of the main touch-points or front-line interactions. Think of each of these interactions as a link in a chain. If there is a weak link, figure out a way to strengthen it to eliminate or mitigate problems and customer complaints.” He also writes, “Take a look at what is happening behind the scenes to support these front-line interactions. The systems and people behind the scenes can make or break the front-line customer experience.”
So, how can this be achieved? Recognition and engagement programs can address each of Hyken’s interactions. Each link, weak or strong, has a value or behavior associated with it. This means that every customer touch-point has a positive potential action or response relating to it. By laying out the chain of values and behaviors, an organization can define what it expects from employees and how the flow of experience should occur. It enables employees to understand the options and to make choices and act in a way that benefit the consumer and the organization. By recognizing and rewarding these behaviors, they are reinforced as company values, further improving service organization-wide. They make your customer service team smarter and better able to make a difference for your customers.
Great customer service representatives really care what happens to the consumer and want the experience to be a positive. Good customer service representatives are ready to be converted to great ones, if you can just remove the obstacles from their paths and provide the guidance and tools they need.