If you’ve ever purchased a product or service in your life, you undoubtedly have experienced bad customer service. From rude workers, annoying wait times on hold, and everything in between, nothing is more frustrating than a horrible customer service encounter. While I could name names (but I won’t), certain companies and even industries are “notorious” for how badly they treat their customers. And it seems no matter how many times they appear on the list of “Companies With the Worst Customer Service,” very little seems to change.
Recently, I had the opportunity to consult with several such companies in an effort to help them get at the root cause for their poor service. They had a sincere desire to improve their customer’s experience, but wanted more intelligence around “what makes our customer service get rated so poorly?” By conducting store visits, ordering online, and calling their Customer Support Hotlines, I immediately honed in on some common themes.
1. UNFRIENDLY Associates
In several interactions it was clear to me that the person I was engaging with (in person, on-line or over the phone) did NOT want to be bothered. It wasn’t that they were overtly obnoxious, just that they seemed annoyed that I was making them…well, work!
2. UNKNOWLEDGEABLE Associates
There were other times when I came upon a vey friendly associate, but one who was ill equipped to answer my question or resolve my concern. As such, a great deal of time was wasted, and although they were as pleasant as Forest Gump, they added no value, just frustration.
3. UNAVAILABLE Associates
In one major retail chain, I visited three different stores in one day. And in each case I needed to hire the FBI to find a worker who could help me. No one was available to answer a question, checkout my order, or offer assistance. These stores took self-service and self-checkout to a whole new level! Unfortunately, their same-store sales have been declining to a whole new level as well.
4. UNCONCERNED Associates
For me personally, there’s only one thing worse than not being able to find an associate…..finding one that is unconcerned! Visiting a fast-food client’s airport store, I found myself standing in line with several angry customers. Angry because while we only counted one worker working, we counted four others just standing around (one talking on a smart-phone)! There was no sense of urgency or recognition that the line of customers was ten deep. Soon, we asked for the Manager, only to learn that she was the one who was working!
5. UNTIMELY Resolution
In the Call-Center world of Tech Support and Customer Service, timely “First Call Resolution” is the goal. Ideally, you want to be able to solve the caller’s issue on the first call, in the least amount of time. Many wireless companies, cable companies and IT organizations struggle mightily in this area. Keeping customers on hold for long periods of time, passing the caller to another department or group, or not being able to communicate effectively can turn a customer to a “former” customer in no time. It’s not enough to resolve the issue, but it needs to be done in a timely fashion with as few handoffs as possible.
In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, the organizations who win are those who take time to not only understand WHAT their customers want, but HOW best to deliver those products and services in a timely, pleasant, helpful manner. Some organizations have made providing excellent customer service, part of their value-add. Others have made the lack of customer service part of their epitaph.