You are not alone

My family and I were enjoying a vacation down south a few weeks ago when both my son and I found ourselves in need of a shirt and tie. As we made our way to the mall to visit the local Nordstrom, my wife commented that that particular department store was world renowned for its customer service, and not only that, but books have been written about the company’s service and its way of doing business. My initial reaction was one of skepticism, “it’s just a department store,” I quipped, “how good could it really be?” I was intrigued though, curious to see how my shopping experience could be any different.

Upon entering Nordstrom, I went directly to the men’s shirt department where within minutes an incredibly polite salesperson came to help. He explained things to me about men’s business shirts I would never have even thought to ask about. I then asked for assistance with my son’s shirt, and rather than just send me to the children’s clothing section he walked me over, introduced me to the salesperson in that department, and explained to her what I was looking for.

The salesperson in the children’s section was equally, if not more helpful, and when we were done there she took me back to the men’s section to assist with choosing a tie and then walked us through checkout. In the end, my service experience was amazing, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was probably the best shopping experience I’ve ever had.

I asked the sales rep what it is that management says to the staff at Nordstrom that leaves customers with raving reviews. She explained that everyone who works there is empowered to help, solve problems from start to finish, can leave their section when required, and has a lot of discretion when resolving issues.

My Nordstrom customer service experience got me thinking about Digitcom’s service, the telecom sector in general, and the many experiences I’ve had during the past two decades working in the telecom business working with various companies’ service departments, and here are my thoughts:

First, you should never “blind” transfer a customer to another person’s extension. If one of your service people or reception happens to answer the phone you should put the caller on hold, check to see if the person is available, and then do a “soft” transfer of the call. If the person isn’t available you should always ask the person if they want voice mail before transferring them.

Second, customer service hold times more than 2 minutes is too long. For example, try calling Digitcom’s customer service department – 416-783-7890 and press “1”. You’ll hear a message that says 99% of all calls get answered in 5 rings. Can your company make the same claim? Why not?

Third, if you’re going to provide a “0” option in your automated attendant or personal greeting, which by the way you should always have, then you should always make sure that there is an operator available to answer the call.

Finally, what is your company’s “First Call Resolution” percentage? This is the percentage of calls that get handled, addressed, and closed within the first call. And excellent metric to aim for is 90%.

The next area you need to think about is how your customers interact with your firm, how are problems addressed?
- Email – is your sales and customer service email address prominently displayed on your web page? Why not?
- Phone – is your phone number prominently displayed on your web page, both for sales and service? Do you have an easy-to-find Contact Us tab on your web page? Why not?
- Social Media – can your customer’s communicate with you through Twitter, Facebook, or a company blog? Why not? By the way, you should check out our Facebook page and please feel free to click the “Like” button.

The next question is for upper management. Does your company’s President handle the occasional customer service call? Do you know what your customers are calling for? If not, why?

Every company makes mistakes. We do all the time. It’s not necessarily a problem to make a mistake, but how you deal with the mistake once it’s been made that makes the difference between deplorable service and outstanding service.

The right customer service attitude starts at the top of the management ladder and works its way down, not the other way around. If the President doesn’t care, the rest of the company won’t either. Amazing customer service isn’t a metric that can be measured; it’s an attitude that disseminates its way down through all of the people in an organization.

Amazing service is an elusive goal, but if done right, will propel your company to the top.

Every single person that works at Digitcom works in the customer service department and every single person has been empowered to solve a customer’s problem; not necessarily answer their technical question, but at a minimum, figure out what needs to be done and to make sure it gets taken care of.

Our company, Digitcom, has adopted many, if not all of the above business practices. But, we’re always trying to figure out ways to improve, to leave our customers smiling…and YES, I do answer the customer service line, at least twice a day.

We do, of course, make mistakes, and that being the case, if you feel that your concerns have not been satisfactorily addressed, please send me an email or give me a call and we’ll work towards a resolution. jw at digitcom.ca, or 416-783-7890 X 201.

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Written by: Jeff Wiener. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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