August 27, 2015 Anil Saxena

Frustrating Customer Service

Customer service is never one size fits all, so why do so many companies rely on pre-packaged solutions, canned responses, or rigid scripts to deal with customer problems?
Killing creativity one process or script at a time

Instead of giving employees the freedom to be creative when helping customers (the lifeblood of every business), far too many companies funnel all of their customers’ support needs into a rote system of predetermined fixes. Whether it’s getting the same unhelpful response from multiple people (who doesn’t love to be passed around from department to department without getting anywhere?), or the feeling that you’re just being brushed off without any real consideration, dealing with customer service can be frustrating.

You can’t find the answer where?

Recently, I was having trouble with a remote control. I spoke with customer service, and after offering one unsuccessful solution, they declared it was broken and would have to be replaced. I got this response from multiple people within the company: I would either have to bring it in or wait for a new one in the mail.

My wife spent a few minutes searching their website, and found a fix that worked. Am I really to believe that the customer service employees didn’t search their own company website for a solution to my problem? Is that even service?
I sometimes suspect that it just doesn’t matter to some of the corporate giants (who are often the worst offenders). Instead of taking the time to help you, they put every effort into getting you off the phone and moving on to the next caller, customer satisfaction (and retention) be damned.
To them, it just might be easier to snag a new customer than help an existing one.
Many organizations think operating this way, they can keep customer service expenses down – since the representatives don’t have to be knowledgeable about the products, or even interested in helping people in the first place.  Yet study after study shows that keeping customers is much more profitable than getting new ones.

How can organizations change the script?

With just a little training, and a healthy dose of creative freedom, companies could easily change this paradigm. If they actually valued their current customers (and front line employees), they would give their employees free rein to solve problems any way they could – and providing that kind of service is sure to increase customer retention, resulting in greater loyalty to the company, future purchases, and strong recommendations to friends and family. Why don’t companies see the value in this?
When will companies realize that keeping their customers happy is the best thing they can do for their bottom line? If they did, they’d do away with those service center scripts and ready-made phrases to appease upset customers.
At least I can dream…

Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.

Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.


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