Flexibility in customer service

Posted: 24th January, 2020 in Case Studies, Communications, Customer Service, Personal effectiveness, Sales , Strategy & planning, Tips & Tricks

How many of us can tell a tale of woe when it comes to bad customer service? And how often have we met a service provider who is unprofessional, unhelpful or just plain rude? 

Sadly, I believe most people have encountered a bad customer service experience every once in a while. And as a service provider we may claim that it’s bound to happen, as people are human and make mistakes.

We could also argue it was the customer’s fault or there was a misunderstanding? These are all valid reasons as long as we learn from them.

Naturally, the interaction between the customer and service provider is vital for a great customer experience. So, we need to treat customers in a courteous and professional manner at all stages of the transaction. Yet, sometimes companies just seem too rigid in the way they deal with customer queries. The person may be nice, but the systems are just too inflexible.

Many companies operate in an environment where there are a set of rules and procedures that staff must follow in order to get the job done. This makes sense when it aids productivity and efficiency within the business. When there are clear lines of communication, staff know what they need to do. They are clear about their roles and responsibilities, so standards are maintained and orders fulfilled. 

These practices may be necessary in order maintain a level of harmony. However, businesses should to strike a balance and ensure their processes are customer friendly and easy to navigate.

They need to take ownership and shift the focus from the “policies” and procedures to how they can better engage with the customer. A company with a culture where staff quote “our policy is…” just antagonise customers.  When this is said, customers feel the shutters going down and believe the person is hiding behind the phrase and they are not interested in helping them.

Organisations must put the customer at the core of their business and re-examine every step of the process where the customer interacts with a person or part of the business. It will help them identify the pitfalls to streamline the business, maximise efficiencies and enhance the processes, so they can provide a better customer experience.

Tony Robbins once said “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach”.

Companies need to create a culture of empowerment and flexibility in their thinking. They have to invest in their people and learn to trust them. They ought to motivate them and train them to become better communicators, not take things personally, think on their feet and more proficient in providing excellent customer service.

Staff who feel confident and empowered to make decisions are much more accountable, innovative and can resolve customer queries faster and in a much more effective way. Ultimately, it can lead to higher customer retention rates, greater productivity, reduced costs, lower staff turnover and increased profits.

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