Customer service, customer support and skills training guide, standards and customer service code of practice, and complaints handling tips, and poor customer service case study Customer service, especially in the shape of a call-center - is to customers one of the most visible and significant aspects of organizational performance. To many organizations however customer service is one of the most challenging and neglected areas of management, including those with modern call-centers. For customers the quality of customer service determines whether to buy, and particularly whether to remain a customer. Think for a moment how you yourself behave as a customer. You can perhaps think of an occasion when poor customer service or an unhappy exchange with a call-centre has driven you to leave a supplier, even if the quality and value of the product or service itself is broadly satisfactory. The significance of customer service eludes many senior executives, let alone the methods of establishing and managing customer service standards and quality. Our own experiences as customers demonstrate all the time that many large organizations fail particularly to empower customer-facing and call-center staff, and also fail to design policies and systems to empower customer-facing staff and enable effective customer service. Often these are defensive strategies because staffs are not trusted, and because competition is feared, or because simply the policy-makers and systems-designers are too far removed from customers and their customer service expectations. Pricing strategy also plays a part on customer service - especially strategies which effectively discriminate against existing customers in favour of new customers, which in certain situations borders on the unethical, never mind being stupid in a customer service context. This is strange since by any reasonable measure or criteria - in any market or industry - it costs far more to gain new customers than to retain existing customers. Neglecting, constraining or failing to optimise customer services capabilities is waste of great opportunities. Instead many organizations and their leaders are habitually fixated on sales, marketing, advertising and promotion - desperately striving to attract new customers - while paying scant regard to the many customers that are leaving, just for the want of some simple effective customer service and care. We see this particularly in highly competitive and profitable sectors such as communications and financial services, where new customers are commonly extended better terms and attention than existing customers. No wonder customer turnover ('churn') in these industries can reach levels exceeding 25%. Leaders and spokespeople will blame the competitive market, and the fickleness of customers, but ultimately when a customer leaves a supplier it's because they are unhappy about the service they are receiving - otherwise why leave? benefits of effective customer service
The central aim of effective customer service and call-centres is retaining customers, but when an organization gets this right the acquisition of new customers - and so many other things - automatically becomes much easier too. Retaining customers - enabled by excellent customer service - produces many positive benefits for the organization aside from the obvious revenue and profit results: * Retaining customers through effective customer service enables easier growth, indirectly and directly, for example by sustaining healthier volumes and margins, and by business expansion from word-of-mouth referrals. * High levels of customer retention via effective customer service also improve staff morale and motivation. No-one enjoys working for an organization that feels like a sinking ship, or where stressful arguments or pressures prevail. When customers are happy, all the staff are happier too - and more productive. * Improved staff morale and motivation...
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