Rethinking Customer Service
Quality Customer Service, Sustainable Customer Service- It’s About Balance
Sustainability is an important concept for our current world, but it applies to things other than environmental concerns.
Sustainability refers to an approach that considers the ability of a product or process to continue to “work” over the long haul, and that “respects” the stakeholders and resources involved in the endeavor.
How Does This Apply To Customer Service and Customer Experience?
We live in a time of lip service to the values of offering top quality service and improving the customer experience. Much talk. Little result. Data suggests that despite all the talk, customers perceive that the customer service they receive has gotten worse over time, despite the “commitments” companies have made, and despite the addition of technology in the mix.
Sustainable customer service means identifying the CORE elements that customers require AND that are reasonable in terms of the company’s business processes. For example, whatever a company does to meet the needs of customers must not result in damage to the company. Customer service policies MUST meet the needs of the customer, yes, but also the realities of the company. It does no good to please the customer while spending so much money on customer service that the company fails, or prices itself out of a competitive market.
There’s more, though. At one end of the customer service chain sits the company with its needs and realities, and at the other end lies the consumer, who also has needs and realities. However, in the middle are employees who must mediate between these two forces and line managers who must organize and coordinate service.
To be truly sustainable, ALL parties need to have at least some, and perhaps more than some of their needs met, or the system breaks down. Make unrealistic demands of the “sandwich” stakeholders and players (managers and employees), and you end up with disgruntled frustrated managers and employees who then impede service delivery.
Even if you have company “representatives” (i.e. CEO’s) committed to customer service, and customers who want better service, unless these forces are balanced, and consider the realities of those that deliver service, very little changes.
Then improving customer service and customer experience becomes a “project” rather than a sustainable process, where a concentrated effort is made for a short time, then ends up lost in the business shuffle.
What Is Win4 Customer Service?
Win4 Customer Service is our term to summarize the idea that effective and sustainable customer service can only happen if ALL parties “WIN”. It recognizes that the successful creation of a positive customer experience, and the provision of quality customer service is a process of systems-intervention and that the customer, the managers and employees, the company (i.e. executives representing the company as a whole), and the shareholders/owners need to “Win”.
Not Just Theory But Business Strategy
No doubt this all sounds high fallutin to many. It’s fairly abstract. But it makes perfect sense when used as a business strategy go guide decision-making about how to use customer service to enhance the business, while at the same time, pleasing the customer and meeting needs of employees and line managers.
We’ll explain this in much more detail – the application of sustainable customer service to real life situations, and decision-making. For now, if you want to get a feel for what it means in terms of policy, take a look at our Business Owner Bill of Rights, which is based on the notion of WIN4 Service.