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Exceptional customer service is one of the cornerstones upon which great organisations are built. With a recession now all but certain, consumers are certain to look to extract the most they can from organisations and adding value to all customer interactions is certain to become an indispensable practice as a result. Studies published in advance of 2020’s unforeseeable first quarters had already concluded that this would be the year where the experience brands are able to provide to customers will become more integral to their identities than products, cost or any other feature.1 Recent events, though, have upped the ante: organisations must engender a culture of client obsession in order to provide the levels of customer service that are now required to win and retain business.
At ROCK, we’ve fostered such a culture over the course of our entire lifespan. Everyone here knows that, ultimately, our clients are at the heart of everything we do; our services, processes, procedures, models, etc. are all developed to help the organisations we are partnered with achieve their goals. This dedication to and consistency in delivering exceptional client care – to an environment that prizes client obsession and the development of partnerships over the generation of profit – is why 99.2% of our clients remain with ROCK.
This macro philosophy has been created through the instillation of several practices and the development of mindsets, specifically:
As well as telephone numbers, existing and prospective customers now require the email addresses of pertinent stakeholders and departments. Live chat facilities are also expected, as is the ability to communicate with companies through social media channels.
As well as making these channels available, it’s important to make them accessible, to ensure that menus are easy to navigate and, of course, that all of the platforms you use are monitored. Automated call routing menus that are difficult to use are infamous means of frustrating clients, for example. Surveys have revealed that 83% of people would either cancel an order or terminate any kind of a relationship with a company after just one negative experience with such a system.2
A customised channel is also something worthy of consideration. Here at ROCK, our clients benefit from a bespoke ticketing system that allows them to report concerns via an online portal. This then automatically generates a ticket and pushes key updates to stakeholders to keep them informed. By providing them with a means of contacting ROCK that is quick and that keeps them updated automatically, ROCK addressed a common client need. Teaming this with other channels was essential to ensure all clients were catered for.
I’ve mentioned telephones before and, whilst it may seem like I’m repeating myself as a result, I know that it’s pertinent to reiterate their importance, as well as add that face to face communication is equally vital – particularly when providers need to develop long-term relationships with their customers.
A 2017 survey revealed that 68% of customers that had enjoyed a positive experience with a company overwhelmingly attributed this to a single representative of the business. Another reported that 75% of people believe that it takes too long to speak to an actual person when it is necessary for them to contact an organisation.3 Both of these findings direct us to the same conclusion – one that is supported, I’m sure, by your own personal experiences – people like to engage with other people and, by allowing customers to enjoy a more personable experience, you’ll win and retain more business.
With modern technology, it’s also possible to provide clients with the benefits of a physical meeting without generating the additional costs or harming the environment. Video conferencing solutions are now commonplace and, when added to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, provide an economical means of delivering high-quality face to face meetings irrespective of where attendees may be located.
The logical extension of the need to develop and nurture client relationships is the creation of an in-house team devoted to the tasks of listening to clients and remaining abreast of developments within their organisations. ROCK’s in-house team not only help maintain meaningful relationships with clients, but also play a substantial role in facilitating our proactive approach. If, for example, a client has hired several new employees, this team will inform the relevant department who will, in turn, ensure that their infrastructure can support it. By remaining au fait with clients’ objectives, they are also able to feedback to technical personnel who can then recommend tech that will help them achieve their goals.
This team serves several vital functions and, whilst all investments will now be subjected to increased scrutiny, I cannot recommend the installation of such a group strongly enough. Serving as a conduit between client and ROCK, they expedite the relationship building process, maintain them once developed and develop the knowledge we need to take the initiative and provide a truly proactive service.
Whilst it’s never nice to receive negative feedback this doesn’t change the fact that it can, when used correctly, be an invaluable resource.
Confirmation bias and the desire we all have to provide our clients and customers with excellent service can sometimes result in us not noticing when we’re falling short. Honest feedback – even when it does lack a constructive element – can help us to identify and address shortfalls.
Here at ROCK, we’ve taken a unique approach to all forms of criticism, dissatisfaction and even mere concerns: we treat them as we would any kind of complaint. We review them and thoroughly investigate them before identifying and addressing their cause.
Mindful of the need for honest feedback that is not filtered by peoples’ inherent desire to be polite, we’ve also mined the online world for comments concerning ROCK and would advise all others do the same for their organisation.
Listening to and acting on feedback is essential but, as I’ve alluded to previously, it’s not always forthcoming. This poses two challenges: you cannot address shortcomings if you are not aware of them and, secondly, it results in a scarcity of actionable data. Both can be addressed by proactively pursuing feedback.
Whenever a large project has been fulfilled, a support ticket has been addressed and closed or even an email is responded to, ROCK follow up and request that the relevant client rate their experience and the solution we provided.
By requesting that client rate key aspects of our service on a numerical scale, we gather data that not only provides empirical information concerning our performance, but that can also be rapidly analysed and acted on.
A degree of value is apparent when a query is addressed or a problem is solved, but ROCK’s objective is to provide something of consequence or use – something of tangible value – with each communication. In many ways, this is achieved through the engenderment of a proactive mindset. Technical queries can be met with not just answers, but also documentation that will provide clients with a more long-term solution, for example.
More important, though, is encouraging an approach that is both empathetic and analytical. All of ROCK’s representatives are encouraged to actively listen to clients, to place themselves in their position and then determine how they can add value to the interaction. This could involve something as simple as booking in a follow up call to ensure that an issue has been addressed correctly. Alternatively, if the matter was more technical, it could be referred to our infrastructural architecture team alongside a request that they ensure the client’s resources can accommodate an influx of users to ensure an impending recruitment drive does not negatively impact their performance. The potential forms this can take are multiple; the key takeaway is that ROCK strive to make all communications as meaningful – and useful – as possible.
Within competitive environments, businesses that are able to provide customers with an experience that is both exceptional and personalised are certain to be those that prevail.
Organisations that are obsessive with regards to customer service and client care are certain to be those who achieve the reputations needed to thrive in testing economic circumstances. Ensuring that key people and departments are easy to contact; proactively identifying and addressing clients’ concerns, using feedback to improve, and actively showing you value and care for your trusted customers are now, more than ever, vital practices.