//Good customer service? Comin’ up!

Seriously? When you have been on both ends of customer service you get a clear picture of why it works so bad even when it sounds so good. In fact, come to think of it, the better it sounds chances are the worse it will get. Why?

Well, you have your big time companies with a huge clientele that are doomed to customer service automation under penalty of a) hiring thousands of customer support representatives, or b) losing most of their client base, and then you have your regular up starter company that looks at the automation of their customer service as a) the way to preemptively strike at their own ambitious future results or b) the way to save money by not hiring a dozen customer support representatives or so.

From the other end of the phone line however, the initial amazement at how technologically evolved their supplier is has long been replaced by the frustration of not having a real person who knows what he/she is doing to help them solve their problem – well at least not before 30 solid minutes of pressing keys and answering preformatted questions at best, listening to a dubious sample loop of Vivaldi’s Spring at worst. In this respect, evolution has been very disappointing. How could this have happened in a world where customer satisfaction is the one thing that will make your business successful?

The reasons would get me going for months of posting, so let’s skip that part and go straight to the one that matters. Keeping in mind the open kitchen approach I suggested before as the ideal strategy to show your company to your clients of today and tomorrow, let’s say that no matter how good you are at doing that it will all come down to the people who actually carry your food to the tables and make sure your clients have everything they need. So unless you are selling a self-regenerating product or a service that will auto-repair beyond updating, your customer service will make or break your company.

In the old days (we can call them that now), if you had a few unsatisfied customers you’d have time to course correct and move on without any significant impact to your business – unless the event that lead to their dissatisfaction was so outrageous it would have made the newspapers. Today, every one of your clients is a potential newsperson and is potentially connected to hundreds, thousands, even millions of consumers. There is no more time to “course correct”. A company’s reputation may be ruined in a matter of hours – and if you think a battalion of attorneys is going to prevent that type of damage good luck with that. Losing thousands, even hundreds of potential clients is not to be taken lightly, and if you don’t think that way you better get your calculator and think again.

I believe customer service is the front line of any company’s business and should be as effective, clean cut and innovative as its products and services. So let’s meet again soon and discuss that, shall we? And in the meantime, if there is anything you can do about customer service representatives asking me if there is anything else they can help me with after solving the problem I called about, please do. It makes me worry.