17 July 2013

Customer experience is a top priority - but are we doing enough?


Earlier this year, we opened a survey on several LinkedIn groups and customer service Twitter feeds about business priorities and challenges for 2013-14.  This article publishes the results of that survey and raises some questions that managers involved with customer service delivery may wish to consider in their own organisations.

We offer this discussion of the results as a prompt for you to think about your own organisation’s position and the progress you’re making in the areas of our survey.

These results come with a heavy caveat, as the number of responses we received was small at 26.  Whilst this means these results cannot be relied upon for a statistical extrapolation of “the state of the industry”, they did include responses from large organisations in the public and private sector in New Zealand and the UK.

The results from our group of respondents indicated their three top priorities as:
  1. Customer experience
  2. Business leadership
  3. Business efficiency

13 March 2013

Turning customer service ‘moments of truth’ into PR disasters

In a previous article, I talked about the need for flexibility and humanity in customer service over adherence to corporate process. The example came from JetStar’s headline news appearance in New Zealand over its treatment of the grieving mother of a shark attack victim.

Less than two weeks later and the UK’s Virgin Atlantic and their security contractor G4S provide another case study of how not to deliver front line customer service.

In this incident, gate staff refused to allow Petty Officer Nicky Howse - a serving engineer in the British Royal Navy returning to duty from a family funeral - to wear her uniform on a flight, despite this explicitly being allowed by Virgin’s company policies.

The story highlights the stark reality of how the actions of individual employees at the front line can rapidly turn a company’s reputation into a very public bad news story.

1 March 2013

Why business process must never replace humanity in a contact centre


On February 27th 2013 in New Zealand, a man died in a shark attack on a beach near AucklandThis tragic story hit the press again just two days later as low cost airline JetStar refused to allow the victim’s mother to change a ticket and fly from Wellington to Auckland a week earlier to be with her family, without paying a $350 change fee.

The New Zealand Herald reported a Jetstar spokesman as saying “Jetstar appreciates this would have been a stressful situation and regrets if the service received by her relative from our call centre caused further distress.”

IF the service received caused further distress?  IF?

This chain of events raises serious lessons for any contact centre manager, going right to the heart of basic principles in customer service.

21 February 2013

Are you prepared for the business and customer priorities of 2013-14?

With the start of a new calendar year just behind us, it’s a good time to reflect on the challenges facing us in 2013, and how well prepared we all are.

With the huge economic changes of recent years - and the rapid emergence of technologies like social media - is 2013 going to be a turning point for business performance and customer service?

Or, will we be so distracted by the ‘shiny and new’ syndrome of technology, that we fail to deliver on the basics of running an efficient operation that meets the needs of our customers?

After all, you can put lipstick on the pig, but it’s still a pig.

I’ve started the year by studying two key analyst reports and launching a new survey to find out more about the headline issues they've highlighted.