On Great Customer Care And Support

One of the biggest and worst reasons businesses fold is bad customer care and or support. One of my pet peeves is bad customer care. The last three words of the last sentence should never exist in the same sentence, but sadly they do. I had one of the least desirable customer experiences. We moved to a new house and have been trying to move our DSL line for a while now.

An experience with Telkom got me thinking about what I valued in or considered great customer care / service / experience.

(Unfortunately, fibre hasn’t come to my block, yet. Fibre service providers — hint, hint…)

One of the most annoying calls for me is holding forever. I don’t mind a long call that resolves issues or while I get the help I need. I find it annoying to hold forever just to talk to someone.

(After the “consultant” answered my call I ended the video; I didn’t want to broadcast personal information. After giving the information, I continued the video.)

What Makes For Great Customer Care / Support / Service?

Availability

I want to be able to get support when I need it. Emergencies are, by nature, unplanned. Great customer support is available when you need it. One of the most annoying things is customer care working hours. Because life and work are happening for people, it is sometimes difficult to coordinate getting support one needs.

Some Internet service providers such as Vox (whom I highly recommend) have 24hr-support. When it comes to telecoms and Internet services providers Vox Telecom take the cup for me. I even get called almost immediately when I DM them on Twitter — no pressure Vox.

They’re available whenever I need them; I don’t have to wait for 8AM to log a fault. They do whatever they promised to do when they promised to do it. Their word and actions are one — they have integrity.

Great customer service is being available when your clients need you (Click to Tweet)

Besides working hours, another aspect of availability is not waiting an eternity to speak to someone. Having challenges with service is terrible enough already. Being always connected has sped up access to some services. While this creates opportunities for business and more access for clients, it creates another challenge and opportunity: expectation.

The expectation? That we have access to whatever we want or need when we feel we need it.

Emergencies don’t have work hours; the same should go for customer support. (Click to Tweet)

Ideally, clients should help when they need it. This is a fair expectation.

No Blame Shifting

Twice we logged a request to move our line to our new place. And, twice they told us we had cancelled the requests, which we hadn’t done. One of our many calls, a supervisor, in essence, said it wasn’t her department’s fault, it was the online department’s.

When anyone in a company doesn’t deliver great service, it is the whole company. If one department doesn’t give good customer support, the entire company has failed. It’s bad customer care to shift blame to another individual or team in your organisation.

As far as customers are concerned, everyone acting on behalf your company is your company. (Click to Tweet)

If someone fails in serving a customer, it’s the company’s fault. Everyone has failed. Internally you can investigate and take corrective steps. But, as far as the customer is concerned, it isn’t a department that has failed, it’s the company.

Client Base vs Support Base

“Your call is important to us, please wait…” or some other variation is a pet peeve. If my call is important to you, why do I have to hold for so long?

I don’t think many service providers think much about this ratio — the customer to support ratio I mean. I don’t know much in this regard but surely there should be balance of some sort.

Your support should match the size of your client base. Service providers who over-subscribe, tend to end up disappointing many clients. I suspect this to be one of the issues in my recent ordeal.

If there isn’t adequate customer support, a business can have too many customers (Click to Tweet).

Businesses need to have customer support that matches the size of their client base.

Help Each Other

Communities tend to form around products and brands. This is common with open source. Sometimes this happens organically, with users leading this. At other times organisations are involved in nurturing the community.

Some service providers create platforms where their users can help each other. This is a great idea. I’m sure people many people have found help this way. While it can be a great idea, a challenge arises when only the service provider can help, which was the case in our scenario.

Which was still my problem. What would my take be on this? If you create platforms for people to help each other, be clear about the extent of help people can get there. It is annoying to spend hours searching through a forum to discover you still need to spend even more on the phone.

Outro — TL;DR

Great business is built on great care for the customers. Not in word, but in deed. Some of the things I consider important for customer care:

  • Companies must really care; I’m yet to feel valued
  • Support is available when I need it. Customer support with business hours is an archaic, irrelevant concept.
  • Client support must match clients. rather not take on more clients than oversubscribe and be dismal at support.
  • If you encourage your clients to help each other, make it clear the extent of the help they can find there. Nothing substitutes only what you, as service provider, can or must do.

Excuses make for terrible justification for bad customer experiences. Service providers, when you’ve failed, own it and make corrections not only with the one client but take corrective measures in your business.

Customers, when you have a bad experience let service providers know. By so doing, you give them an opportunity to not only get better, but protect people from unemployment.

Over To You

What make a great or not so great customer experience for you? Any lessons or ideas for service providers? Thoughts?

Update: After all the frustration and drama I’ve mentioned, Telkom has moved my DSL line. Side note: subcontracted technicians are always great.


Originally published at Blessing Mpofu.