Have you ever heard any establishment in public or private sectors apologising for their bad services? How many times companies’ representatives do not pick a phone call, or put customers on permanent hold, or after filling an online complaint form a customer finds out that it did not go through? Examples are plentiful.
Communication with clients is reaching a dysfunctional level. The use of the automated systems by many establishments is disrespect towards people. The excess of automation definitely leads to user frustration. Customers get in touch with business because they have a question or a problem to be fixed – but automated replies often can’t provide answers to rare or unique questions. Service providers are unable of dealing adequately with clients’ needs and aspirations.
It seems the concept of customer care is an alien idea. The worst scenario points to near or full monopolised industries – particularly utilities — where there is no other option except to bear poor service, high prices, and a lack of empathy to users. There is something called consumer protection. That is the correct track to go through if there weren’t hiccups on the path such as friendships, lack of clarity, or lack of awareness, etc.
The point is, customer service translates into returns: more clients, profit, expansion - or losses! In a recent case, an employee with an Internet service provider lashed out at a subscriber during a phone call by telling him to ‘Complain to consumer protection!’. That was a human being, not an automated system! Well, it is not about delighting the user! It should be reducing customer service costs, and decrease customer churn.
To have someone who understands nothing about the business in charge of customer relations, or someone who couldn’t care less about client satisfaction is a fiasco! Think about food and beverage, wedding services, entertainment — customers’ displeasure can break the business. Nevertheless, some areas do get away with inefficiency.
Back in the history of trade, merchants had to meet the needs of customers to flourish. That hasn’t changed much. From there, marketing techniques boomed. In the 1770s basic ideas of competition in the marketplace started with Adam Smith’s publication Wealth of Nations; nearly one hundred years later, the concept of money-back guarantee was a big innovation.
With business going online and social media functioning as a platform for customers to broadcast their experiences, companies face challenges. A short note on social media can make a difference, even when the issue seems to be irrelevant within a company’s big picture. Some establishments could use feedback to improve customer relations. In a competitive business environment, having clients assured, is investing in its brand and reputation – even in monopolised areas!
Customers are more money conscious these days. Not only that, the closure of commercial activities has given the chance to shoppers to reassess and evaluate their spending habits. Being more realistic about what they need to buy, and from where! It is important that companies, public or private ones, do not neglect the use of the telephone – a distressed user would benefit from talking to a real polite and thoughtful human being! The customer relations sector is so important that it has become an industry with conferences, career progression, industry training, etc. Clients can be chatty or like to ask questions (me), others are annoyed, but they all deserve to feel they have been heard, that their concerns will be addressed.
Expectations are higher than ever. Service has become a sales tool, and companies want their clients coming back — equal revenues. However, let’s be frank, no matter how well a company does, it will be difficult to please everybody — but that should not be an excuse or the starting point!