5 Words that Describe the Best Customer Service
The byline may feature my name, but the members of the Call Center IQ community deserve credit for the formation of today’s article.
Ten months ago, Organizing.buzz president Lisa Gessert commenced a simple discussion in Call Center IQ’s "Social Media for Customer Service and Call Centers" LinkedIn group: in one word, how would you describe the BEST customer service?
More than one hundred members have replied (and only a few have ignored the one word guideline). The resulting thread is one rich with insight about how today’s business professionals define elite customer service.
Simple, inviting and readable, the discussion represents a stroke of social media genius.
It also represents a valuable means of assessing customer service.
No matter how philosophically customer centric, today’s businesses all face practical constraints. They cannot do everything and they cannot be everywhere. Despite that reality, they are being asked to serve customers who demand an increasingly higher level of service.
Businesses, consequently, have no room for wasted effort. If their finite resources and capabilities do not go specifically to what matters most, they will not be able to compete on the customer experience. Customers will flock to the businesses that come closer to the customer experience ideal.
By identifying the one word that describes the best customer service, professionals articulate the one thing they absolutely cannot ignore. No matter how loose or tight their budgetary constraints, they must deliver on that pivotal expectation.
CCIQ readers are encouraged to check out the aforementioned group, join and contribute to the discussion.
To help make the list more navigable, CCIQ has identified the five most frequently selected words (truly interchangeable or synonymous word forms were combined; duplicates or answers that exceeded one word were not considered):
1) Empathy (or "understanding"): The best service, in the eyes of the greatest percentage of group members, is not imposed upon customers. It is the product of an actual attempt to empathize with them. The concept of customer centricity declares that the information and resolution offered must align with customer desire rather than business script, habit or policy. Truly understanding how the customer feels and why the customer wants what he wants is the surest way to honor that directive.
2) Satisfaction: Again indicative of the fact that customer service is, ultimately, about the customer, "satisfaction" (or "satisfied") represents the group’s second-most popular selection. No matter how efficient, innovative, cross-channel or personalized the service, it ultimately needs to satisfy the person or entity to whom it is being offered.
3) Listen (tie): Scripts and policies are designed based on expectations and generalities. Actual customer interactions are rooted in unique experience and shaped by unique customer preference. Instead of attempting to affix a standard label onto a conversation, the best customer service effort listens wholeheartedly to the customer and allows that conversation to create the label and drive the remainder of the interaction. When it comes time to issue the resolution and complete the engagement, the agent again listens to make sure the customer – not simply protocol – is satisfied with the outcome.
3) Patience (tie): Average handle time is relevant for workflow purposes. Efficiency is relevant for business purposes. When it comes to elite customer service, however, patience trumps both. The best customer service, per a substantial group of members, involves a complete commitment to the customer – and achieving his desired outcome. That may manifest in a quick call. It may require a lengthy one. Exercising patience, neither the business nor the agent should possess a preference. Both must invest the time needed to deliver the best outcome for the customer.
5) Caring: Certainly believers in the notion of empathy, a chunk of group members believe the call of duty goes one step further. They believe the best customer service occurs when the outcome truly matters to the business and its agent(s). Agents do not simply need to listen to customers. They do not simply need to understand customers. They need to care about customers – and the success of the interaction. What the customer is facing – and what the customer requires – should matter to the business. Troublesome matters should concern the business, as those matters do customers. Successful resolutions should delight the business, as those outcomes do customers.