Thursday, February 3, 2011

Anybody listening to the customer?

Blogging after a long begin with, let me put a question.. How do we react to bad customer service?? Press 1 to toss the phone, 2 to yell at ourselves, 3 to pull our hair, 4 to dissolve into tears, 5 to do all of the above or 6 to reach a customer service associate-although it seems exasperatingly polite and jargon-dripping voice from over the phone (usually unable to help) is the face of customer service of the modern times. On top of it, the delicious irony is that to disapprove /condemn an organization on its Facebook page (the most talked about flavour of the season), we have to register our Like for it first.

How has customer service changed in the past decade, that started off with people getting more relaxed with the internet and now moving onto social media where, it would seem, it’s so simple to draw a company’s attention to how it hasn’t paid any attention to its customers. Promptness has become very significant. Earlier the promise of a visit on Saturday has moved on to Saturday between 12-1 p.m. because customers don’t have the time to wait for hours. Earlier there would be somebody at home all day, but the situation is not same now. Thus, most of the service visits are made after 7 p.m. or on the weekends

Customer service campaigners scrutinize mammoth technological revolution in the past decade has changed the expectations of customers drastically. One can now bypass the tedious queues and book railway tickets online and bank and buy through the internet. The flipside is that the barriers have plummeted, several businesses of the same kind have proliferated and customer service has become a hygiene factor. Business houses, these days are investing in technology thinking it will make the customer happy but they are spending only to be in the race of business. And in this process, they are only focusing on customer acquisition and not on retention. A million dollar question that arises now is whether these companies have the back-up systems to manage the load? Customers of today are much more empowered and enabled, thanks to technology but the core driver needs to be sensitive. Speed of response is a necessary component, but that does not call for an automated response. It’s not only hi-tech but a hi-touch that is important today. People want a voice and a business deal is not just sales, but the total experience with the organization. Products have become commoditized and customer service is the major differentiator. The biggest challenge for the senior management is to institutionalize customer relationships..