What does exceptional customer service feel like - and how to create it?
We’ve recently embarked on our new venture, and as anyone who has ever done this knows, there are many demands on one’s attention.
I’ve recently been thinking about Customer Service, and what that looks like, and, more importantly, feels like to customers.
I’ve worked in many organisations over the years, large ones, small ones, in between ones, and I can safely say that in all cases, the word always was, we care about our customers. Some organisations seem to mean it more than others; but fortunately, I think we’ve moved beyond the “take it or leave it” mentality that less customer-oriented organisations used to demonstrate.
Adopting new tools
This week I’ve been test-driving some new tools; basically, I’m trying to do things that should be doable, and most certainly are doable, if one has a specific skill set, and, while I have many skills, plenty of what I’ve been doing recently does not fall into what I would define as my core skillset.
And that brings me to why I’ve been reflecting on customer service.
There are a plethora or organisations that have sprung up (seemingly overnight) that enable someone who is not, for example, a developer, to do many things that I would have normally expected to need a developer to do.
And I love them.
It means that I can play with things until I get them to do what I want them to do, without trying to explain in sufficient detail to hand it over to a Dev, knowing that I’ve defined it clearly enough. I can tinker until I get the “look and feel” right. And usually, what happens about 3 hours after I think I’ve got the look and feel right, I have another flash of insight and decide that’s not actually quite what I wanted, I want it to work slightly differently, and then I can tinker some more.
I can only imagine how much this would frustrate a developer, had I given them one set of instructions, only to make changes once it does exactly what I asked them to make it do. And yes, this is why Agile is a thing.
But back to these tools I’ve been test-driving, and my reflections on customer service and experience.
And in a global market?
We live in a world where we aren’t always in the same geographic location or even time zone as our clients – and getting new clients to change the way they do things means that you need to make it easy and seamless.
And even if you make it as easy and as seamless as possible, that doesn’t mean that your new client is going to find it particularly easy.
Recently I had two similar, but quite different experiences.
In both cases, I was trying to do something that I know must be doable (I maintain that there is nothing I do that sits at the bleeding edge of any technology), and in both cases, I was using an app that I had recently come across to try and do these things.
In both cases, there was a chat function to help with any questions or difficulties I might have had. And I love that. I am happy to jump on a chat and work through my challenge, I’m not a fan of picking up the phone, especially if it means waiting on hold for 30+ minutes.
The key difference started after I joined the chat; in one case, they clearly stated that it was a bot answering (and I appreciate that). Unfortunately, the bot couldn’t actually help me. In the other case, a real person was on the other side of the chat. And they could help me. They were friendly, knowledgeable, helpful.
What an amazing experience.
And this is what got me thinking about customer experience.
What does 'good' look like?
For me – not needing to phone or send emails is a winning strategy, so the chat functionality is definitely a winner. The bot, however, was less of a winner; it wasn’t smart enough to understand my question and redirect me to helpful links, pages or other info. I do wonder what it would take to make the bot functionality better, so that it would triage the queries coming in and perhaps handle some of the tasks and pass others along to a human?
Understanding how our customers want or prefer to communicate has been a question posed many times; organisations that are customer-focused understand that different customers prefer different channels of communication, and they cater to those channels.
I’m certain that as we grow, and develop, customer communications and experience will become more challenging. No doubt it will continue to be an interesting and amazing journey.
My question to you – as a B2B customer, what are your preferences when it comes to communication and customer service?
Do you prefer the high-touch customer relationship approach, where you have a relationship manager and a specific person that you reach out to and who helps you with whatever query of challenge you have?
Are you comfortable being redirected or helped by a bot when what you’re trying to do is straight-forward?
Do you prefer emails? Where you can highlight or address several things at the same time? Or are you definitely a phone-call type – where you prefer to actually speak to a human? And if you do want to speak to a human – do you have any caveats around that?
In short – what does good customer service look like to you? I'd love it if you'd leave your thoughts in the comments.