Why is customer service in most businesses so poor? Here is a small anecdote to use to view the issue: I was on the phone with a travel professional arranging a complicated trip. I generally do my travel plans myself, but this one had lots of stages and elements. On a leg from JFK – SFO, she offered seat 20A. I told her I didn’t want 20A because there was an electrical box at my feet. OK: 24F. “No, I need a power outlet.”
I try always to be polite. Polite is the only way to be with everyone – absorb that lesson! I asked the agent, who was just a good sport, why she didn’t use SeatGuru. She just laughed. She knows that site. She knows she could find the best seat. But her company doesn’t give her access to the open internet.
What is happening in industry? Customers say that the percentage of successful website visits is dropping. The satisfaction with agents is dropping. Agent morale? Dropping. How many times do these hard working people face frustration before their morale flags? Before they stop believing you want things to get better? You put them under a time crunch, and give them multiple screens packed with poorly arranged data elements. They often toggle between multiple screens and systems looking for information. Tick tick tick goes the clock.
They know customers Tweet, but they don’t see it. They know we post, but can’t read posts. They know there are cool Web 2.0 projects going on in the business, but not in their department. Did you ever try swimming for pleasure with your hands tied behind your back and a cinder-block knotted to your legs? Often times that is what it is like to be a customer service rep.
They say that the cheapest call that you get is the one you never get. Well, not necessarily, and, so what? Not necessarily: because the ‘no call’ might be because the customer has given up – they just don’t trust you and go elsewhere. And so what: maybe if they had called and had a terrific experience, you would have had a customer for life, spending more on your products and services.
Who is in charge of the retention and growth in your business? Usually it is split – Service gets ownership of measurement on satisfaction, sales is retention, marketing and sales are growth. But the agent suffers, and the customer suffers. And only the CEO will break this conundrum.