Customer Service—the Customer’s Way
While driving down the road the other day, I heard the following commercial on the radio:
“Ally Bank, committed to customer service, with the option to reach a human being at any time at 877–247-Ally by pressing zero.”
As you can imagine, I almost drove off the road. After years of companies burying an option to reach a live operator 7–8 layers deep in their IVR, here’s a company that invites you to actually talk to a live human being. Amazing!
As companies compete for customers, it’s obvious that good customer service is critical to keeping customers satisfied. While having customer-friendly policies and procedures is important—as is high-quality customer service training and ongoing coaching—the fact is that to compete these days, companies that think strategically, like Ally Bank, are putting more emphasis on providing customer service the way customers want to be served whether that be by phone, e-mail, chat, self-service, or (drum-roll, please) a real, live human being.
Staffing Up Customer Service with Humans
However, staffing up with humans is an expensive proposition. To maximize your investment, resources need to be put into hiring, product and customer service training, and on-going coaching. A report of customer service in 16 countries by Genesys found that having to repeat themselves and speaking with representatives that lacked the skills to answer their inquiry were two of the main reasons customers left a company. The number one reason? Being trapped in automated self-service.
On the other hand, the research found that customer satisfaction increases when companies meet these four key customer needs: competence, convenience, proactive engagement, and personalization.
When asked what they would most like to see companies do to improve service, 40% chose the ability to speak with a live person, but more than half chose at least one new communication channel.
The moral of the story? If you’re going to provide customer service the way customers want to be served, provide them with options. Your self-service options need to be easy to use, and your human options need to be well-trained.