For those who came in late, this is Part 2 of our Customer Service Spotlight Series.
In Part 1, we covered what customer service means to the consumer, and how going that extra mile for the customer could earn their business for life.
In that light, great customer service is not really a difficult thing to achieve. But it is important to align the business processes with the consumer, so customer service becomes an integral part of the brand. We’ll take that idea forward here.
Service, Brand and all those Intangibles
Customer service deals with the human side of an organization. Feelings, emotions, perceptions, behavior, understanding – all those things that matter, but you can’t quite affix a number to. Intangibles that you just can’t plot on your weekly reports. And that is exactly the reason why they are so difficult for most businesses to visualize and implement.
But if you can’t measure it, how do you make customer service an organization-wide goal?
The Problem: Putting it on a Graph
That is where it gets tough. It’s easy to wake up one morning and decide to make “customer service” a business priority. But actually getting on the hot seat and showing progress? That’s quite another. How do you bring “emotions” into your product? How do you make your customer feel like part of your business? How do you strategize, measure and grow the customer-focus into an organization wide philosophy?
To start off, you need to be able to Tangiblize the Intangible. And to be fair, this is going to be a challenge. And playing that challenge right is the difference between brands that consumers love and brands that hide in the inconspicuous back shelf in your local super-market.
Getting a hold and “Tangibilizing” the Intangibles
Almost every time we have a support experience that we love, it has something to do with how we perceive the support rep on the other side of the table. Probably the nice lady at the phone company patiently listened to your billing issues. Or the flight attendant managed to wrestle a seat for you in the next flight. Or the waiter at the restaurant could actually explain the dish to you.
Sensitivity, attitude, tone, knowledge, understanding, tact, guidance. Little emotions that are a big deal. And every one of these customer service love story is made up of two fundamental elements: the Process and the Person.
A lot of personal warmth blocked out by rigid processes is just as bad as a nice flexible organization with a Charles Manson for a support rep.
Almost every business which has nailed the customer service game right, has one thing in common: the perfect blend between the intangible personal warmth of every service rep, and the structured surety of set processes.
The difference between a Killer Service and a Service Killer
That makes just two dimensions to create that killer customer service. The procedural dimension that consists of established systems and procedures to deliver products and services, and the personal dimension is how service providers use attitudes, behaviors and verbal skills and interact with customers.
If you graphed a support desk on these axes, the quadrant it ends up in tells you the customer focus in that company.
When personal as well as procedural dimensions are low, the customer service essentially says : “I don’t care. No Soup for You!”. When the personal dimension is bad but the procedural dimension is good, the customer service is saying – “You are number 89312. And we will process you. Some day!”.
A high rank on the personal dimension and poor procedural score says – “We are trying hard, but we don’t know what we are doing. Please stay on the line and a support rep will be with you shortly”.
The last quadrant, the one where we want to be, when both procedural and personal dimensions are good, the service is saying – “We care and we deliver. Would you like me to super-size that, by the way?”.
The company which has support processes in place which blend in the ‘intangible’ personal dimensions is the company that will have the upper hand. Empowering employees to take decisions on service issues themselves is an example of this. We talked about a company which did exactly this on our blog before – Zappos. Zappos’ customer service is legendary, and is the result of a planned, concerted effort to combine the tangible and the intangible.
The Customer Service Quadrant is a good place to start if you want to evaluate your business’s support processes before ramping them up with a dash of personality.
You care for your customers. It’s time to let your customers know how much.