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Five reasons companies fail at customer service

The fundamental purpose of a business is to get and keep customers. As a corporate trainer, I receive lots of requests for customer service training from companies large and small. It is a topic that touches every business and industry. Almost every successful company recognizes that it is in the customer service and experience business. It is also a challenge on a governmental and national level.

You may know how to deliver an excellent customer service experience, but do you?

Shep Hyken, a customer service expert and author of “The Customer Revolution”, shared the five reasons why companies fail at customer service. I can fully relate to every point from my years in the training industry.

Not long ago a potential client called my office. We discussed the reason he was calling, the problems he’s having and the results he wanted to achieve. He claimed his employees weren’t executing on the “basics”. Within a day I presented an outline of a proposed program. A week later his response was, “We already know how to do that.”

My response was, “Of course you do. Much of customer service is common sense. Unfortunately, it’s not always so common.” What I really wanted to say to him was, “If you really do know how to do it, then why are you so bad at it?” after all, he already admitted that his people weren’t delivering the basics of good service. What I proposed was exactly what he needed.

You see, it turns out that most companies do know what to do. They just have a hard time executing. So, if so much of customer service is common sense, then why don’t most people do it better?

There are lots of answers, and here are five common sense answers to why common sense customer service fails:

 

Companies don’t take the time to hire the right people. Hiring right isn’t just for skill or competence. People have to have some aptitude for customer service, the ability to be trained and they must fit into the company’s culture.

 

The company vision, at least for customer service, is not clear. Many times it’s a vision that is long and wordy. The best customer service vision statement is one sentence or shorter in length – and employees get it, own it and can recite it easily. This is a huge thing I see when I work with companies – customer service activities and the company’s vision are not connected. This, in my opinion, should be the first thing that is corrected.

 

Companies don’t take the time and effort to train everyone in the company. Everyone has to be on board and in alignment with the customer service vision. That can only come through training and ongoing reinforcement of the vision. Companies should ensure employees experience a customer service experience training session at least twice per year. Because there are so many elements to service, I’ve worked with companies that focus on a different customer service topic in mini sessions each month. Whatever the frequency, it should be done without question.

 

People who have roles that don’t interact with the customer don’t believe that customer service applies to them. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone has a customer, be it the outside customer or the internal customer. Customer service is part of the culture of a company, not a department with customer service reps. Jan Carlzon, former president of Scandinavian Airlines, once said, “If you aren’t dealing directly with the customer, you probably support someone who does.”

 

The customer service is not consistent. Inconsistency erodes confidence. The key is to deliver a positive customer service experience that is consistent and predictable.

There are obviously many more reasons companies fail at customer service. To be successful, it starts with the basics, which are common sense. Sure, most people know them. However, the practice of what we know is not so common.

Even if you have a sound business plan, dedicated employees and an award-winning product, all those positive points can be negated by bad customer service. Companies work hard to bring in customers, but once they have them, not all businesses do everything they can to keep their customers.

With the social media culture we live in, customers can post a complaint online for thousands to see even before leaving your office or store. In order to build (and keep) your customer base, ensure that your employees get the right amount of training as frequently as possible. Take advantage of my upcoming “Customer Success Seminar: How to amaze every customer every time”, scheduled for Wednesday, March 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participants will, through specific techniques and awareness, help to raise the bar on the company’s overall customer service strategies. The fully interactive seminar will help employees to recognize the value of providing excellent service to both internal and external customers. It is customer service training at its best! For more information contact me at keshelle@keshelledavis.com.

 

• Listed in The Nassau Guardian’s “Top 40 under 40”, Keshelle Davis is a skills development expert and authority on corporate, business and personal success training in The Bahamas. She is the CEO of The Training Authority, an entrepreneur and internationally recognized speaker and author. Formerly she served as executive director of the Chamber Institute – the education arm of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC). She has impacted thousands through her mission to educate, empower and inspire. Contact Keshelle at keshelle@keshelledavis.com.

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