Customer Service: Are the right question being asked and are you answering correctly?

What you are doing wrong.

Why aren’t you answering your phone?

When it comes to customer service how knowledgeable are you about your customer’s needs?  How responsive are you and how quickly do you respond to their issues? In the book “Raving Fans,” the authors declared:phone ring

“Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are low and because no one else is doing better.”

I had one of my customer who has tested a competitor’s product tell me that once when he had an issue with the product, he was given a solution in forty-five minutes that solved his problem permanently. For my industry that was quick. It also turned out that the problem was being caused by a device that wasn’t a part of the system he was testing.

Know your product

The first thing about customer service is that you know the product that you are selling. This may seem simple enough because you have a trained customer department. But they can’t know everything about a complex product; so are there resources readily available for your service representative to find answers? Do they have the resource that they can call to help solve a problem, because they know the product better?

How fast can you fix the issue?

If it is an issue that needs the customer to perform an act, providing the service department understands the problem, and have a solution, then the problem might be easy to fix quickly. Better yet as in the case of my customer with the competitor’s product, the solution was sent directly to the problem device via a cloud solution.

Can your customers describe their problem

This brings me to my next questions. Do you listen to your customer? Are you asking the right questions, and are they describing the problem correctly? A customer lack of knowledge about the product can hamper the service provided. They may not state what is happening correctly. Ever been asked by a doctor to describe your pain? Even that can be difficult. Think of your customer who only knows what your product does when it is working correctly. When it is not working is new territory.

I have a customer who has had the same issue for about eighteen months with an end-user of a product. All my attempts to help him failed. Even when he asked the “right question,” it was framed in such a way that the answer I gave him was not helpful. It turned out that he was buying the wrong product from our internal sales department. How did I find out? He sent me the document he had that prompted the “right question.” He did not know what he was looking at so his question was not framed correctly. Educate your customer, and re-educate your customer.

The fix was another issue. Not because I was at fault throughout the process, although I had some missteps but because our infrastructure was bad, and the customer was not communicative. Think eighteen months.  However, if we had a good system in place even a non-communicative customer would have been helped quickly.

Is your Customer Service Department infrastructure customer friendly?

Mine wasn’t… in some areas. Focus changed, history lost, people left as it happens with many companies. Needed information was not available. The people on the front lines do not know what version of a product a customer may have because of poorly kept records. It was a cluster. In my case, everyone knew what the customer had; Inside sales, me, my reseller (customer) and the end-user. The internal hardware changes and the firmware enhancements made over the years did not change the underlying operation of the device. The problem was the device for this end-user had a “special” firmware. The operation was different from the standard product. No one knew, that is, until I received a certain document. So, why did I tell this story?

Is your service department so broken that you cannot service all your customers timely? That’s a serious problem, and your competitor is only too ready to fill the gap. How do you fix your problem? How do you fix the problem so that all the resources are available and your customer service department, or your technical services department have all the information needed, all the history to help long time customers as well as new ones. That’s why I tell the story: The structure as well as the training and resources have to be in place, or you are not customer friendly no matter your pleasant phone personality.

How do you rebuild?

It takes time. It takes research, most of all you must reach out to your customers. Find out what they have, and don’t keep them stuck with old hard to service products. Educate your inside reps, your outside reps and your customer. Keep retraining your customer. Educate your people so that if one leaves, the ability to provide service is not lost.

You have to ask yourself some of the questions I have asked here and answer them.

  • Does my customer service department know the product – my wife took her car in for service once. She had to show the technician how to unstuck the gear shifter in her car. She read the manual
  • Do my customers really know and understand my product to ask the right questions when there is a problem
  • Are the right questions been asked to give correct answers
  • How helpful is my documentation
  • How quickly can my team resolve customer issues
  • Does anyone know the development history of a product, how much it has changed and what the changes do/mean for the end-user
  • How well am I training my service reps
  • Do I have an infrastructure in place to keep up and make resources readily available
  • Is my engineering team involved to help with technical issues outside the scope of the customer service department
  •  Understand what it takes to make the customer or end-user of my product satisfied.

Or as the first rule of customer service described in “Raving Fans” is, “decide what you want.

Your CommittmentCover of "Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Ap...

Then commit to provide the service. Use current technology. Put help on the web or make it cloud based. Make sure to answer your phone, and when you do, you have answers and know where to find them to help your customer.

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Author: J. Anthony

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