by Rory Berry on 25/09/12 at 3:39 pm
In a world where all people really want to do is look after themselves, individuals and companies that break the mold by caring or excelling in service will get noticed.
One of the first jobs I had was working in a sporting shop. We had a section called customer care. It was the refunds and returns counter, the individual that worked there had the simple task of dealing with complaints/ broken products/returns. It was a face-to-face position so things got sorted out really well for the most part; there are exceptions to almost every rule.
Moving forward into today’s technology driven society and we have lost that individual experience. We are forced to deal with large corporate beasts that in many cases will ship you via a call centre of automated response. If you are brave enough to play the “push number listen to prompt” game, you might, 6 hours later, actually speak to a human. What we really want, especially in stressful circumstances, is a person to shout at or listen to us. The missing element is that personal interaction and care. How many times have you got phenomenal care and attention from a brand and raved about it to all that would listen?
Growing need for social media to go beyond marketing
We are so focussed on our Klout score, influence or following that we miss a key ingredient in our interactions with people. We forget to actively listen to their problems and make an effort to solve them. As powerful as Social Media is, we tend to make it a one-way communication channel for the most part. There are generally more of the “Look at this” type messages and clever shifts away from tough questions than there are engaged brands.
There is a growing need in business for social media to go beyond marketing strategy and to include a very relevant underlying customer care element that in many cases is just missing. We need to be teaching these bright young digital wizards to care like it was done in the “olden days”. Having someone know your name when you walk into a business, even if it’s just your local DVD store, makes you feel special. Relationships are going to be where brands retain customers. It’s not the relationships between brands and their customers, rather relationships between their staff and customers.
3 Tips so you can add a personal touch.
1) Make customer care a part of the entire organisation, not just the Support team – This enables and empowers anyone within the organization to help out, as long as they are qualified to do so.
2) Reward great customer service – If you find a superstar in your team or customers keep raving about a specific employee, a small gift or certificate is a minimal financial sacrifice to say thank you. It will motivate others to try harder and validate those that often get overlooked.
3) Have a human phone people back – There are times when you just need to speak to a living breathing person, even if they can’t actually help you. Too much automation is not always a good thing.
Are you working in an automated beast, or do you listen to your customers?
Based in Cape Town, trained at the University of life and polished on the frontier that is the performing arts, Rory Berry is an entrepreneur with a passion for Customer Service. He is in the process of launching a venture to assist businesses in their customer service efforts. Follow him on Twitter (@rmberry) to be treated to his personal and professional opinions on work, life and keep up to date with his mad quest. View more articles by Rory Berry.