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    Study Reminders

    What leads to Customer Service Issues?
    These are the types of issues organizations need to wipe out in order to deliver a quality customer service. It is this individual behavior which leads to customer attrition, poor reputation and a loss in sales.

    Satisfies organization's needs but fails to build relationship with customer
    Quality of service delivery fluctuates, lacks consistency
    Takes no personal responsibility for meeting customers' needs
    Customers' needs sometimes not met and rarely - if ever - exceeded
    Makes customers feel insignificant or "run of the mill"
    Personal standards are lax: little evidence of pride taken in work and/or is satisfied with mediocre work and results which fail to satisfy the customer or the organization
    Approach indicates a lack of attention to detail: mistakes are made, errors occur and are not corrected
    Addresses mainly/only the symptoms of problems instead of the causes
    Does not utilize previous experience or knowledge of customer issues to best effect
    Jumps to conclusions, assumptions or fails to listen to the customer

    There are five principal considerations used by customers to judge whether an organisation is providing excellent service:
    Reliability - the ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately.
    Assurance - the knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence.
    Tangibles - the appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel and communication materials.
    Empathy - the provision of caring, individualised attention to each customer.
    Responsiveness - the willingness to help customers and provide prompt service.
    Many organisations who examine the question of service quality do so after the event. Frequently this is too late because the customers' perception is that they have not received good service and they may not return.
    Any evaluation tool must be able to monitor and assess each of these areas in turn.

    Monitor and Evaluate Customer Service

    If customers aren’t happy, there are ways directly, and indirectly to monitor issues and complaints, and seek to redress these.
    Deliveries – right first time - If you are a logistics company, make sure your delivery system ensures that the customer receives exactly what they are expecting, when they are expecting it. Late deliveries, incorrect deliveries or damaged goods cost you money and seriously damage customer relationships. So talk to your customers and find out if they are satisfied with your delivery standards. Use dedicated numbers so customers can ring back and talk to you; organise surveys and work on complaint statistics to develop improvement programmes.
    Email - All companies should give their customers a way to lodge customer complaints via email. This way, a customer knows they can reach you pretty quickly, and can use a channel that they are familiar with.
    Direct phone line to the complaints department - A lot of your customers will still want to pick up the phone and dial in to talk to someone, so make sure you have a customer service number, or even better, a customer complaint number. Remember to keep this number manned and try to answer the calls as quickly as possible. You don’t want your customers hanging on hold for 5 minutes and you certainly don’t want to be outsourcing the experience (if you can help it). Customers love talking to some inside your company, and that goes a long way to showing you care.
    Social Media Monitoring - As a result of companies integrating social media into their customer service channels, your customers now expect you to be there too. You need to be monitoring your brand mentions across all social media websites. To help you with this, there are a couple of really good tools available.
    These are:
    Sprout Social
    These tools monitor your products and services and other specific keywords that are relative to your company. Then you can really target what customers are saying and do something about issues being raised.
    CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Systems and other Technology – You can use your existing systems to help you analyse customer purchasing activity and frequency, and if there are changes, you’ll be able to contact them to ask for feedback. Integrate a customer complaints software program that will allow you to track and organise as well as resolve complaints. These tools allow company representatives the tools they need to handle complaint issues. Examples include Everest Customer Complaints Management by Lynk Software and Master Control's Customer Complaints Software.
    Be clear about what isn’t working - Categorise the different complaint types to see what issues need to be addressed the most. Sort the sterling/euro/dollar value of any monetary transactions that resulted in a customer complaint, so you can assess the risk of loss of business. This will also create momentum to resolve issues.
    Develop policies that address unresolved customer complaints - This is essential, but you can go one step further by deciding what customer retention techniques you'll use. Offering special customer discounts, free items, or other one-time-offers to save a customer relationship are all examples of ways unresolved complaints can be handled.
    The foundation of a successful service operation is a well-defined service strategy that directs the attention of the people in the organisation to the real priorities of its customers. The strategy must be deliverable, be uppermost in the mind of all the employees in the organisation, with all the activities in the organisation should be directed to fulfilling the strategy.
    The systems by which the products and services of the company are delivered to the customer must be designed for the convenience of the customers but at the same time should be easy to use for the employees. They should be self-correcting and invisible to the customer.
    Be able to build positive working relationships with external customers

    This is split into ‘how’ you build relationships in a positive and effective way, and ‘what’ you do to build relationships, in terms of systems and processes.

    The ‘How’
    In any customer-facing role, you’ll be expected to be able to handle the following:

    Accurately able to assess customers' needs and wants
    Builds relationships and partnerships with customers
    Sees issues from the customer's perspective, as well as keeping to company policy or guidelines
    Provides a consistently high quality of service delivery
    Constantly looks for ways of adding value or otherwise "making a difference " for customers
    Sets exceptional personal standards: takes pride in work and works to achieve the best possible result
    Shows concern for all areas of a task, no matter how small
    Works to get things right first time every time; always checks own work for errors and omissions
    Ensures work is completed to the highest possible standards; only satisfied with the best
    Reinforces standards and quality; suggests ways to ensure they are met and assists others' in meeting them

    Get to know your customers in person. Getting to know your customers in person; many customers frequent businesses run by people they know and like. When you speak with customers in person, ask about their interests and concerns, as well as what is working and not working for them with respect to your own business. Remembering a customer’s name, family members and other personal details can go a long way.

    Taking notes also will help you to remember specific details about a customer's feedback, allowing you to learn more about each customer's particular experience.
    Special events are a good way to meet face-to-face and get to know customers on a personal basis. They also provide a space for customers to ask questions and make suggestions; you will also learn a great deal about customers' needs and desires

    Communicate with the customer. Establishing lines of communication with your customers is vital to developing relationships with them, and you should utilize as many communication channels as possible. It is important to stay in your customer’s thoughts after an initial meeting. Make sure to establish a line of communication with the customer early on, whether through an e-mail message, newsletter, or other means. Here a tips for ‘how’ to communicate with customers:

    Friendly – if you are handling a colleague or a customer on a face-to-face basis, smile and start with a friendly greeting. In business to business trade, it’s increasingly common to use first names when dealing with people

    Attentive - when you’re listening to a customer or talking to them, focus your complete attention on them. If you’re distracted, try to eliminate the distraction, by taking the phone somewhere quieter, for example

    Convenient - before starting a lengthy conversation, check whether the other person has time for it, or ask to schedule time. Don’t let the communication suffer because one person needs to hurry it

    Respectful – communications are increasingly informal, but you should remain polite and respectful of the customer at all times. Remember the tips on effective communications and listening earlier on in the Module.

    Tailored – personalise your message to the customer’s requirements and knowledge level

    Give a Little, Take a Little - Negotiations and relationships are built on this concept. There are always "trade-offs." Let the customer feel like they have "won" some of their points if negotiating a resolution. If they walk away from the table with a deal, where they felt like all they did was "give," it may well be publicised on media, or they won’t return as a customer.
    Often, you can choose to deliver service face to face, by phone, by email, by post, or on social media. The best channel to use is usually:

    The most convenient for the customer - if you’re initiating contact, ask each customer how they prefer to be contacted, and use their preference;

    The channel the customer used to contact you - Reply to a letter with a letter, an email with an email, and a phone message with a phone call;

    Don’t get locked into using one communication channel if it is no longer the best way to deal with a particular enquiry, though:

    If you need to discuss a lengthy report, email might be best so that you can insert comments in the report

    If you need to discuss something which customers feel strongly about, it’s better to arrange to meet them or to speak to them

    You can only change the channel with the customer’s consent, so ask if they mind, and explain how you can serve them better using a different channel.

    The ‘What’

    Don't focus exclusively on your company's products or services, or only contact customers when you are trying to earn their business. Updates on events, product or service advancements, or other news will help to build communication between you and the customer that is not strictly based on business.

    Creating a Culture of Caring - A key part of the communication is to able to connect with customers and with each employee. A company culture needs to encompass how employees treated each other, not just the customer
    Engaging a customer in your business - finding ways of actively involving them in the development and improvement of your business - is an important component of building a relationship with them. Focus on developing two-way communication with customers.
    E-mail marketing keeps relationships strong on a tight budget. Build your reputation as an expert by giving away some free insight. You have interesting things to say! An easy way to communicate is with a brief e-mail newsletter that shows prospects why they should buy from you. For just pennies per customer, you can distribute an e-mail newsletter that includes tips, advice and short items that entice consumers and leave them wanting more. E-mail marketing is a cost-effective and easy way to stay on customers' minds, build their confidence in your expertise, and retain them.
    Offer rewards: Every industry has companies who do reward and customer loyalty programs differently. It is a very simple form of saying 'thank you.' And particularly of late, loyalty programs seem only to have grown in popularity. Why? Customer loyalty programs are the next-generation marketing strategy. It is a viable and measurable marketing tool that small businesses can use to retain their customers and grow their business. As an example, look at 02. Their “priority” reward system is advertised on the television regularly. It is stated as their way of saying thanks, for being a customer. Offering exclusive offers for customers, the company has teamed with high street brands, tickets and experiences, as well as access to entertainment deals.

    Explore the link below and answer the following questions:
    Which company owns 02 and promoted the rewards system?
    A: Telefonica UK limited
    What is Access All4?
    A: The opportunity to watch your favourite Channel 4 show 48 hours before it airs
    Is Priority a free service?
    A: Yes it is. Priority does not charge you for offers (although when using the service, your data usage will be charged at the rate according to the data agreement or package you have).

    Now, we’ll take a look at customer service problems and external customer complaints.