“Strive not be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein
This is just a quick rant about some personal experience, I had, with customer service coming from one of the biggest companies, which names I will not mention. I’m not going to name them because it really is irrelevant to the purpose of this post.
First of all, why is this important for marketers? It involves the last stage of the customer decision-making process – the method used by marketers to identify and track the customer journey of their decision-making process.
We will be looking at the second and last stages of the process in which customer service and support play role in.
I have this belief, which my brother thought me a long time ago, that for one business to work really well, every single person and department of the business needs to perform at their best. Like a clockwork mechanism, every single cog must do their job well in order for the whole mechanism to work at its best. If one does not do what it is supposed to do, everything will start falling apart.
For some time now I started noticing that customer service departments in big companies (and I mean right there at the top) are lacking some basic knowledge about their own products and their competitors’ products.
Why is this so important? Today, marketing is customer-centric, as it has never been before. User experience (UX) is in every marketeer’s mouth and everybody talks about it and how important that is for their marketing strategy. Rightly so. Customers have great knowledge about what they need, what they look for, what problem they have and the clichés like “Did you switched it “on” and “off” coming from customer support staff does not work anymore.
A recent example comes from my mobile operator here in Ireland. Problem was that I could not send and receive MMS due to restoring factory settings on my phone. So I went to chat with their customer service and I was given instructions on what to do. After doing what I was told to, not only I could still not use the MMS service, but my mobile data disappeared as well. So after their “help” I lost my internet and still had the same problem. Three chats later with three different people and being assured from the last person that the phone will work fine if I restart the device (which it didn’t) I had to go to do my own research online and finally fixed my internet not thanks to their support, but thanks to Google search.
A similar thing happened with customer service from an even bigger company which I really really love and it was such a disappointment for me. I don’t think it is the people on the other side of the line’s fault, but what they are told to do. There is no freedom for them to think outside the box. At least that is what my belief is.
Please correct me if I’m wrong and if you work in customer service please go ahead and share if there is any truth in what I am about to say. How I see customer service training is:
- You are given a textbook with answers to FAQ to learn
- Ask the customer basic questions no matter how irrelevant to the problem they are or if the answer was already in the description of the problem. The book says you have to ask so you ask.
- Someone asks a question that is not in the textbook and customer service employee
- Asks to switch the device on/off
- Calls a supervisor
- Finds something in the book that is similar to the problem the customer has and gives this as a solution, regardless if they think it’ll solve the issue or not.
I wish that little old me could suggest to these companies to start teaching their customer service employees to listen first, I mean really listen, and then take actions. Also, make sure they know the product/service from top to bottom. As I said earlier the customers today are very knowledgeable and it is not a good image when the customer knows more than the customer support.
Another part of my rant is on their knowledge of similar products by competitors. This just happened to me today which pushed me on to go ahead with the post. Here’s what happened. I will be opening my first e-commerce shop (applause in a distant parallel universe where someone actually reads this blog or gives a flying duck on what I do), so I was torn between two of the most popular platform providers. Naturally, I had some questions to help me with my decision and went on to chat with customer support. To one of them, one of my questions was if the platform provides a plug-in similar to YOAST. The answer I got was, “I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with YOAST”. For those of you who don’t know YOAST is the Carlsberg of SEO plug-ins, probably the best one out there. I use it for this blog and it is a tool which I can’t live without.
The customer support person quickly recovered and said that they have a lot of SEO apps and plug-ins. At least they knew what YOAST is. To be perfectly fair, except this, the rest of my experience was more than excellent. I was answered all of my other questions and they went the extra mile by asking me questions on what the business is going to be about, what products etc. That made me feel like they are actually interested. I received an email which started like this:
“I’ll pull together some SEO links and pop those onto you also however in the meantime I thought some of these links may be useful to you, Have a read over them, and pop a reply back to me if you want me to clear up anything.”
This will save me a lot of time doing the research on my own. This is what I call customer-centric marketing and a perfect UX.
However, I believe the customer support should at least have some basic knowledge of their competitors’ products and services. If this person was to say “Yes, we have a plug-in which is very close to what YOAST does” I would now be making an account with them instead of ranting here like a little female dog.
In conclusion, I just want to say that I do realize that the bigger the clock, the more the cogs are and it is harder to make all of them work as good as you wish, but something needs to change. Monopoly companies may have the leverage for now, but who knows what the future holds.