Is Customer Service Dead?
Almost every business encounter entails a customer service experience, whether directly or indirectly. Granted, today’s tech world has fueled a transition towards automated customer service delivery and moved away from people engaging face to face. However, what has remained a constant is that customers go back to companies that treat them right. Has there become a perceived misconception where we must no longer deliver great customer service because we can simply hide behind a computer screen?
This article tells the story of a brilliant customer service experience I had recently. You could be a business owner reading this, an employee in the service industry or a jobseeker looking for some advice. Whichever one of these is you, I’m optimistic this read will still provide you with a takeaway.
‘Free’ is not an excuse
My company recently received a free exhibit at the Africa Rail Expo – one of the continent’s largest of the year hosted at Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg. The keyword here is free – that’s correct, we didn’t have to pay a cent. However, it’s not relevant because of the credit our hosts deserve for supporting a cash-strapped start-up. Neither is it relevant because its 2019 so the air that we breath basically comes at a price. FREE implies that our service provider could very easily have neglected us throughout the whole customer process. Even if we’d have received next to no customer support, we’d still probably have walked away satisfied at the no-cost marketing exposure we gained from the event.
The triad of customer service
Brian Mushongera, Networking Manager at Terrapin, was made responsible for all communications and support with the exhibitors. Initial communication was conducted via email, with clear and concise instructions simplifying the registration and set up process. Email overload often implies the ambition to up-sell customers, but the regularity of email receipt was just right. In the 3-week space between registration and event, I received a total of 7 emails from Brian. This is roughly enough to keep me engaged, but not enough to irritate me.
These emails were twinned with a total of 3 phone calls. I sometimes receive call follow ups from prospective providers after a string of inbox-clogging emails, and quite simply just want to hang up regardless of their politeness or tone. However, because of the email experience I’d had from Brian, I was more than happy to take his call and discuss my business’ needs. The smile on my face after tapping the red phone icon was a true reflection of his charismatic, attentive and natural communication throughout.
You may have already guessed what completed the triad of successful customer service delivery. I’ve now been to enough expos to know that the afternoon on the final day is very much the ‘graveyard shift’. By this stage, the majority of people walking past your stand are those most committed to trading their contact information for a can of Coca Cola. A short while prior to attempting how to successfully dismantle a banner, I was greeted by none other than Brian himself. It was enlightening to finally put a face to the name. By this stage, I was already an admirer of his professionalism, yet the personal engagement compounded this further. Despite managing over 100 exhibits, he could accurately discuss my business and relate to my needs in line with that he could offer.
It is so easy to forget your customer experiences and focus on the product or service you’re receiving. We play in the most competitive landscape there has ever been that we don’t realize how elastic customer service is. Just because product differentiation is tangible it doesn’t always prevail when it comes to business success. Speaking for myself but likely for the masses, a memorable customer experience is very much significant when it comes to brand loyalty.
- If you’re product happens to be free or on promotion, your customer service delivery should be as good if not better than normal.
- The best customer experience is one that involves the triad of communication: Email, telephone and face to face engagement.
This article aims to provide both businesses and jobseekers alike an insight into what might make up great customer service. We hope you enjoyed the read and can take at least one valuable lesson from it, whatever the context.