Embarking on the Journey to
Check out the cover story of the latest edition of Sbusiness
magazine (published by The Association for Services Management
International)! CCI President Craig Bailey offers his insight on
Embarking on the Journey to Customer Centricity - a subject
already familiar to our faithful newsletter readers!
Customer Advocacy - A Bigger Picture Exists
As we discussed in
previous edition, customer relationships too often unravel because of
botched individual interactions. While individual interactions might seem
minor and fairly routine, they should never be viewed in isolation, but
rather as part of a bigger picture.
Have you ever seen an email chain similar to this?
Customer (end-user): Last week I called you about the device not
working. You sent me a replacement that also doesn't work.
Product Company (Customer Support Representative): Our policy is
to do a quality check before we ship. The device worked prior to shipping.
Are you sure you are using it properly?
Customer: Yes, I know how to use the device. I've been using it
for years now. Can you please resolve this matter?
Product Company: Our policy upon receiving faulty items from
customers is that we do a test to confirm the item is not working. I just
reviewed the results of the test on your returned device and we found it
to be working. As such, I'd like to suggest you take one of our training
courses. Your relationship with us enables you to receive a 15% discount
on the $2,000 class. Would you like me to schedule you for the next one?
Customer: I've had it with you people. You keep trying to sell
me stuff I don't need while not resolving my issues. We need to meet with
(cc: Decision Maker.)
Here, a typical customer service scenario unfolds through a set of
interactions that causes the relationship to unravel to the point where a
"get your suit on meeting" is required between the customer (end-user and
decision-maker) and the product provider. What a waste of time and energy.
Not to mention customer dissatisfaction.
First, email can be an effective communications tool, but it has its
limitations. In our example, the most important suggestion would be that
the Customer Service Representative should have picked up the phone and
called the customer after receiving that first email. Something is just
not right. Continuing this dialog in email not only served to elongate
resolution (reply/response times) but caused each party to lose context
(train of thought) which further exasperated the situation.
You might ask: "Why wouldn't I continue the dialog in email, the customer
started it that way?" To which, I respond with "are you a professional or
an amateur?" The customer needs your help. They have gone (seemingly)
multiple days with a faulty product and it is YOUR responsibility to get
them "back in business." It requires you to further diagnose the
situation, which simply is not as effective in email. So, take charge and
pick up the phone.
As a Customer Service Manager or Supervisor, you may have assigned certain
CSRs to email duty today. The CSRs are using email to respond to/process
as many inquiries as they can to make their numbers. They may think that
picking up the phone is not part of email duty and/or it will make them
miss their numbers. Managers / supervisors - you are encouraged to clarify
this (including a balanced set of metrics) to avoid a situation similar to
Second, when discussing matters with customers, don't talk about policy
(quality check) - they don't care. In the above example, the device
doesn't work. All the customer cares about is a working product (or
Third, asking a long-time customer if he is using the product correctly
adds insult to injury. Instead, walk-through the customer's use of the
product (step by step) to identify clearly what is going on, and when.
Finally, while up-selling and cross-selling are certainly important goals
for Customer Service organizations, WAIT until you have fully diagnosed a
(problem) situation and exhausted every possible alternative to solve the
Getting into the hearts and minds of your customers requires moving beyond
help scripts and policy – it means truly understanding what matters to
them and helping them achieve their goals. In the next edition we will
cover practical techniques and considerations to ensure that when written
communications are appropriate (email and otherwise), they are effective
and also consider the bigger picture.
If you feel that your organization may benefit from receiving a
comprehensive seminar on the practical approaches for instituting the
Customer Advocacy model, give us a call. We would be happy to discuss this
with you and determine if we can help.
View previous articles in this series.
Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down
This column is
devoted to memorable customer experiences, the good, the bad, and the
ugly. This issue provides a satisfied customer experience:
No sooner had I signed up for a savings account with ING Direct when I
misplaced my PIN, which is required for online registration. My call to
Customer Service was promptly answered with the live greeting: "How can I
help you save?" – exactly what I wanted to hear.
I explained I had lost my PIN, and after asking a few questions for
authentication purposes, the CSR indicated that another PIN would be sent
to me via postal mail, and we ended the call. A few minutes later I found
my PIN. When I tried to use it to register online, it didn't work,
presumably because it had been reset per my previous call.
So, I called in (somewhat embarrassed) and again the call was promptly
answered with the upbeat greeting "How can I help you save?" I explained
that my PIN wasn't working during online registration. The rep asked me a
few questions to authenticate me, then commented "I see that you've
already talked to us today about this situation." I said, "yes" and the
response was "I am sorry that I put you through all that [authentication]
nonsense." The rep confirmed my suspicion that because my prior call
indicated I had misplaced my PIN, that it was reset, and the new one was
on its way.
All in all, a very positive experience. I had made the mistake of
misplacing my PIN and ING Direct did what they had to do to get me
"online" without making me feel stupid. Although their model promotes
leveraging the Internet to lower their costs (and thus provide higher
interest rates to customers), they made it easy for me to get help
"offline" when I couldn't get online – an effective balance for serving
Editor's note: Aside from the clear
benefit of providing the right balance of online/offline customer support,
this example highlights several positive Customer Service points:
The company's Customer Support Representatives (CSRs)
know why they are there: to help ING Direct customers "save more." They
reinforce this when answering each call.
The CSRs demonstrate they understand their customers.
They probably have to authenticate EVERY caller regarding PIN issues.
However, the comment made by the second CSR was apologetic and even a
bit self-deprecating with the statement "I'm sorry I had to put you
through all that nonsense" acknowledging what was likely an annoyance
for the customer having to again go through the authentication exercise.
By apologizing for this likely customer annoyance, the caller's feelings
were "proactively" addressed, putting the caller at ease.
With comprehensive, real-time access to customer
information, CSRs know the situation, without the customer needing to
re-explain it. This keeps interactions quicker, and not a waste of the
customer's (or the CSR's) time.
Have your own customer service experience to share?
View previous Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down articles.
+ Customer Advocacy - A Bigger Picture Exists
+ Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down
+ Book Recommendation
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from Craig Bailey
Is your company
passionate (about the customer) and realizing the benefits (profitability)
of being so? If not, a must read is
Passionate and Profitable by Lior Arussy. After having dinner with
Mr. Arussy recently, I found him to be just as passionate and "edgy" about
the customer as his book would suggest! Some of the key topics covered
Who are we: Customer
pleasers or efficiency crunchers?
What is the role of
the customer in our existence?
What customers do we
What kind of
relationships do we seek?
How do we avoid the
silo-based customer trap?
Do we employ
functional robots or passionate evangelists?
and feedback, do we really care?
What do our
measurements say about us?
How long do we milk
gets even better! The book is ranked as a "five-star" read and is
presently on sale at a reduced price at
A Message from Craig
Support Hunger Relief
is an issue that continues to be very important to me and I have decided
to get involved! For the 3rd year in a row I am walking in the CROP WALK
and I need your help. CROP WALK is sponsored by Church World Services (CWS),
which has received a ranking of "Excellent" from the American Institute of
Please consider making a donation to my efforts. Your donation supports
programs that work to solve this world-wide challenge, including
responding to relief efforts associated with such devastating events as
You can help by making a donation via
my personal donation page where you can make a secure online credit
card donation. If you would prefer to make an "offline" donation, let me
Thank you for your support in helping to solve hunger.
Support Craig and CWS
About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through
better service delivery and management.
We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support
teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other
key operations functions.
In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your
customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner
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