The New 7Ps of Customer Service Excellence. Are You Following Them All?

If you claim to be customer centric are you sure you’re walking and not just talking the talk of true customer service excellence?

Last year I was prompted to question this of the Swiss cable company Cablecom. It had been desperately trying to address a long-term deficit in customer care versus its main competitor Swisscom. Swisscom has made customer service their MSP (main selling point or value proposition) and they are renowned for putting their customers first. Cablecom on the other h and had, until then, been trying to win customers through aggressive price cutting. In today’s connected world, especially when internet connection is concerned, dissatisfied customers will be quickly heard – across the net.

Back to the incident that prompted this post. After a few days of being ignored by Cablecom – my perception at least because my emails and phone calls were not being answered – I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I resorted to Twitter.

It was more than a year ago that Twitter was first referred to as today’s call centre. Guy Clapperton, author of “This is Social Media” wrote an interesting post about this in 2011 and surprisingly this idea was actually questioned at the time. Today, I would argue that it is much, much more than this.

Today’s call centres are a frustrating, if sometimes necessary experience for customers to endure. In many cases they are automated, with an often long and complex self-selection process of button pushing to arrive at the department one needs. Usually the result of all that effort is just a recording that either announces that the department needed is not open at the moment, or that the collaborators are currently busy and to please stay on the line. We are next subjected to music supposedly designed to calm our nerves, interspersed with messages suggesting alternatives to waiting on the line: going to the website to find a solution, to check their available FAQs, to complete a contact form, or to send an email. And then of course to add insult to injury, we hear the infamous message about our call being important to the company! Really? If so you’re not showing it, you’re not walking the talk.

Edison recently ran some research showing the patience that we have or rather don’t have today, on social media. Convince & Convert published some of the first results in an interesting article showing that companies must react immediately to customers using social media. One in five expect an answer within 15 minutes and 42% within the hour. For reference, when Guy Clapperton wrote his post almost three years ago, the level was almost half that at just 25%.

Companies that have understood customers’ frustration with help-line queues have found alternative solutions, such as arranging a call back, or providing sufficient staff to cover the busiest times, or at least to be available when the customer is most likely to need support.

Today there is no excuse for a consumer goods company to not be ready to help their users when they need it the most (>>Tweet this<<); for example:

  • Early morning or late at night for personal care products
  • Breakfast, lunch and evening meal times for food manufacturers
  • Evenings and weekends for TV and technology products

Whilst in a few cases, there may be customers who use Twitter to jump the call centre queues, in most cases, it is a customer’s final cry for help before “going under”.

Taking the customers perspective is the absolute right thing to do for a company, but should we as customers also not take the company’s perspective when reaching out to them, or at least to the poor person who gets our wrath at the end of our email or phone call?

Jimmy N. from UPC-Cablecom, was one of the very best examples of what a customer service advisor should be, based upon my considerable years of working on both sides of contact centres. What did he do so well and what might we all learn from him, despite his relatively young age (early twenties)?

I summarise it as the new 7 Ps of customer services:

  1. Private: He immediately took the conversation offline, asking for my email address and then calling me to speak in person.
  2. Patient: He let me talk first, just listening until I had finished ranting, or stopped to ask a question.
  3. Polite: He never lost his cool, even when I did!
  4. Perceptive: Empathised, knowing when to push forward with the next topic and when to go back to reiterate what had been agreed.
  5. Professional: He was an expert, knew his topic and more importantly knew how to explain its complex details in simple terms.
  6. Pragmatic: Worked with me to find solutions that worked for us both.
  7. Perseverant: He continued to ask and answer questions until he was sure I was happy with everything.

Are these the seven best qualities for call centre advisors, or are there more “Ps” to mention? Let me know, especially you Jimmy, if you read this.

If you need help in optimising your own care centres or customer connections then we would love to support your plans. We know we can help, just tell us where and when. Contact us here and check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

No Obligation, just INSPIRATION!

C³Centricity used an image from Dreamstime in this post.

This article is based upon a post first published on C3Centricity in February 2013.

The 7Ps of Customer Service

As with many Bloggers and Tweeters, my posts are sometimes prompted by something that happens in my daily life.

This week, I question whether or not all companies have really taken the customer perspective with their care centres or are just talking the talk of customer service. I conclude with my suggested 7Ps of customer service, to help those who are still struggling with this change.

 

Background

The recent experience that prompted this post concerns UPC-Cablecom, a local Swiss cable company. It continues to desperately try to correct a long-term deficit in customer care versus their main competitor Swisscom. These past few years have shown some progress, but they still have a long way to go to match Swisscom’s effortless caring.

You see Swisscom made customer service their MSP (main selling point or value proposition) and they are renowned for putting their customers first. UPC-Cablecom on the other hand, had until recently, been trying to win customers through aggressive price cutting. But as we all know, that can only work for a certain time. 

Back to the incident that prompted this post. After a few days of being ignored by Cablecom – my own perception because my emails and phone calls were not being answered – I resorted to Twitter.

I try to avoid doing this, but I must admit that most companies respond within minutes to social media complaints, because the world is watching. That for me shows that they are not truly customer centric, since when no-one is watching, they continue to ignore the very people who are paying their salaries!

 

Why Social Media is the New Customer Service

It has been a year or so since Twitter was first called the new call centre of today. Guy Clapperton, author of “This is Social Media”  wrote an interesting post about this at the end of 2011. Interestingly this idea was questioned at the time. What a lot has changed in just a few years!

I would argue that it is much, much more than just a service center. For the customer, most call centres are a frustrating, if sometimes necessary, experience for them to endure. In many cases call centres are automated, with an often long and complex self-selection process of button pushing to arrive at the department one needs.

Usually the result of all that effort is just a recording that either states that the department needed is not open at the moment. Or that the collaborators are currently busy and to please stay on the line, or even worse, to call back later.

If we remain on the call, we are then subjected to music supposedly designed to calm our nerves, interspersed with messages suggesting alternatives to waiting on the line: going to the website to find a solution, to check their available FAQs, to complete a contact form or to send an email. And then of course to add insult to injury, we hear the infamous message about our call is important to them, so please stay on the line.

Compare that experience to complaints published on social media. Response times are usually counted in minutes rather than days!

 

Customers have Lost Patience with Companies

Edison recently ran some research showing the patience that we have or rather don’t have today, on social media. Convince & Convert published some of the first results in an interesting article.

It showed that companies must react immediately to customers using this means of communication. One in five expect an answer within 15 minutes and 42% within the hour. For reference when Guy Clapperton wrote his post in December 2011 the level was almost half that at just 25% within the hour!

Companies that have understood customers’ frustration with help line queues have found alternative solutions. They are proposing useful call back options, or providing sufficient staff to cover the busiest times, or at least to be available when the customer is most likely to need support.

 

Examples of Better Customer Services

Today there is no excuse for a CPG company to not be ready to help their users when they need it; for instance:

  • Early morning or late at night for personal care products
  • Breakfast, lunch and evening meal times for food manufacturers.
  • Evenings and weekends for TV and technology products

Whilst in a few cases, there may be customers who use Twitter to jump the call centre queues, in most cases, it is a customer’s final plea for help, before “going under”.

Taking the customers perspective is the absolute right thing to do for a company, but should we as customers also take the perspective of the company we are reaching out to? Or at least that of the poor person who gets our wrath at the end of the email or telephone call?

Great examples to understand and learn from can be found in this article by  on Mention. It is called “Social Customer Service: Lessons from 5 of Our Favorite Brands” and includes cases from Nike, Starbucks and Netflix amongst others.

 

7Ps of Customer Care

Jimmy N. from UPC-Cablecom, was one of the very best examples of what a customer service advisor should be. And that is praise indeed after all my years of working on both sides of contact centres. What did he do so well and what might we all learn from him, despite his relatively young age? I summarise it as the new 7 Ps of customer care.

  1. Private: He immediately took the conversation offline, asking for my email address and phone number. And then he called me to speak in person.
  2. Patient: He let me talk first, just listening until I had finished ranting, or stopped, to then ask for clarification.
  3. Polite: He never lost his cool, even when I did!
  4. Perceptive: Empathised, knowing when to push forward with the next topic and when to go back to reiterate what had been agreed.
  5. Professional: He was an expert, knew his topic and more importantly knew how to explain its complex details in simple terms.
  6. Pragmatic: Worked with me to find solutions that worked for both of us.
  7. Perseverant: He continued to ask and answer questions until he was sure I was happy with everything.

 

Are these the seven best qualities for call centre advisors, or are there more “Ps” to mention? Let me know, especially you Jimmy, if you read this.

If you need help in optimising your own care centres or customer connections, then we would love to support your plans. Check out our website for more inspiration and then contact us here: https://www.c3centricity.com/contact

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

Plugin Support By WordPress Plugins
Send this to a friend