1. FAST.Customer contact has its timing. Some operations require fast service. Others might require timely assistance.
Now, what is the difference? The context of the customer determines the urgency of the request, thus the required speed of service.
Let me give you two examples:
• Commuting to work and hungry? You would expect to choose, order and collect your sandwich within a minute and still catch your train. This is where the service needs to be fast. However, when you are taking your loved ones to a night out for fine dining in a restaurant, you would probably be disappointed if you were serviced within a minute.
• Going to the hospital? For a routine check-up, you probably wouldn’t mind if the doctor ran 15 minutes late. However, if you just survived a car crash, and you’re fighting for your life, time is of the essence.
You see the point. Everything has its timing. So how FAST your customer contact is, depends not only on the type of organization you lead but also on the context of your customers who contact you.
Some debate is brought up on whether there is a significant correlation between speed of service and customer satisfaction.
Speed of service relates to
(1) how fast your customer can contact the customer contact department,
(2) how urgent the issue is for the customer, and
(3) how much time it takes for the issue to be resolved.
These three all enforce each other, making it more challenging to analyze correlations. However, from an empathetic position, it’s quite easy to understand its value. “Fast” is the first out of four ingredients for your excellent customer contact operations.
2. FRIENDLY.Being FRIENDLY is the second key ingredient to excellent customer contact. But do you know why that is, besides being pleasant to the ear?
Customers usually don’t contact your organization because they want to. They feel some level of distress that drives them to contact you. Humans are social creatures needing comfort, validation, or reassurance when distressed.
A vast research base among humans and primates shows the impact of social connection on emotion regulation and survival. To cater to your customer’s needs, the customer contact interactions must be friendly and empathetic.
Make your customers feel welcome and heard. It creates a much-needed emotional connection between your organization and your customer and shows that you understand and know how to serve them best. Being friendly means showing you understand the problem, you empathize with the customer’s situation, and that you know how to lead them to the right solution.
3. FIXCustomers contact you because they need a solution to their encountered issue. Thus, an essential ingredient of excellent customer contact is providing the right solution to the customer.
When discussing ‘Friendly,’ I laid out that a core element was to connect with your customer on an emotional level and understand their problem.
Organizations tend to limit the power of the customer contact team. Mainly to prevent judgment errors that could cost a lot of money. As a result, customer contact is divided into multiple tiers or levels of support, where the decision-making is shifted to other departments. Subsequently, the costs around contact increase to a level where you can wonder if it is still worth it.
From a human point of view, it doesn’t make much sense. Most employees start working in customer contact because they want to help customers solve their issues. Customers reach out to the customer contact department because they want their problem solved.
To keep both your team and your customers on board, it is essential to empower your customer contact team with the tools, rights, equipment, and autonomy to fix the customer’s problem. Empower your team to actually perform the job they’re hired (and wanting!) to do, and you will be able to achieve excellent customer contact. It’s simple as that.
4. FOLLOW-UPOnce our service is fast, friendly and able to fix an issue, there is one more ingredient that serves as the icing on the cake: follow-up.
Without a decent follow-up, the effect of being fast, friendly, and fixing the problem is gone.
Let me give you an example.
A short while ago, I contacted a bank, because I needed to terminate an account. After a short waiting time (fast), I spoke to a lovely customer service agent (friendly), who knew exactly what needed to happen for my account to be terminated (fix). All what was needed was for another department to handle the case and I would be helped. She made a note for the department, who would contact me within 5 days.
7 days passed, and I reached out to hear about the status.
Again, the man I spoke was fast to answer, knew what needed to be done and was friendly. But there was no note to be found, my case was not passed to the other department and my account was not terminated.
The happy feeling about the service flew right out of the window.
Follow-up is as easy as: do what you say. Lay out the expectations and make sure to meet them.
Interested in achieving excellent customer contact operations? Let's get in touch!