Still catching up on some old blog posts I saved. Two terrific posts from Guy Kawasaki on customer service here and here. Here are a couple of sound bites to wet your appetite to read the entirety of both posts:
Integrate customer service into the mainstream. Let’s see: sales makes the big bucks. Marketing does the fun stuff. Engineers, well, you leave them alone in their dark caves. Accounting cuts the paychecks. And support? Do to the dirty work of talking to pissed off customers when nothing else works. Herein lies the problem: customer service has as much to do with a company’s reputation as sales, marketing, engineering, and finance. So integrate customer service into the mainstream of the company and do not consider it profit-sucking necessary evil. A customer service hero deserves all the accolades that a sales, marketing, or engineering one does.
Keep customers in the loop. Customers should never have to ask what are you doing. Let them know what’s happening as you’re doing something (such as look up up their account or researching an issue). Extend keeping customers in the loop beyond the actual communication as well – if you’re having a service outage, post it right on the front of your support section. Be honest – tell them what’s the problem, when service will be restored, and what you’re doing to prevent it from happening again. Apologize profusely and don’t be cheap (aka offer compensation). This way, customers feel that you appreciate them and do go out of your way to keep them in the loop.
Follow-up. Probably the biggest difference between acceptable and great customer service is how often (and how well) the customer service department follows-up. If a customer makes a suggestion, follow-up on it and give them a call or send them an email with the result. If a customer calls with a customer service problem and you believe it’s resolved, send them an email or give them a call asking if their problem has been resolved to their satisfaction. Make follow-ups personal (avoid “Our records indicate you had a problem on April 1, 2006. If you need further assistance, please contact us.”) and sincere and customers will truly appreciate it.
If you’re hungry, there is lots of food for thought in these posts. Of course, Guy is not a lawyer and so these posts are not law-specific. You’ll need to read with an open mind!