I am the President for the National Amtelco Equipment Owners Association and in that capacity I write a monthly column for our newsletter. The overall topic of this month was Customer Service. I really had to stop and think about the state of Customer Service today and how it fits into an overall business strategy. It is sad but true that delivering an above average level of Customer Service has become a competitive advantage! Deliver extraordinary service and books will be written about you…
Why has it gotten to this point? I get the sense that a variety of factors have led us to this point. At or near the top of the list is the pace at which we move today. We are in a 24/7/365 world. I know because my company helps power that world. We get the strangest and most routine calls at 3am, at times you would think it was midday on a Tuesday. Customers have come to expect instant access, not just to information but to people. That means you need to be on your Customer Service game around the clock. 30 years ago this was pretty much unheard of, but today it is the standard.
Another factor in the demise of service is the number of customer touchpoints that must be managed. It used to be phone call, letter (snail mail) and face to face. Now there are a wide variety of channels customers use to make contact, and many of them are difficult to manage in real time because they require someone to “notice” them. Web chat, email, voicemail, etc. are at times more passive and require tightly defined systems to deliver a high level of service. Training costs and challenges increase exponentially as well. The skill sets required to serve in this new world are more diverse. Written and oral communication skills are now a must, and much harder to find in the employee pool.
The upside to all this, for the companies that crack the Customer Service Code, is a huge competitive advantage!
Have a great week!