Customer Service impacts Customer Satisfaction

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Social Media and Web marketing is changing the nature of customer satisfaction strategies and programs, including all techniques to gather feedback from customers and new techniques to communicate with customers.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Best Service is No Service

I recently read an excellent book called The Best Service is No Service: How to Liberate Your Customers from Customer Service, Keep Them Happy, and Control Costs by Bill Price and David Jaffe which I highly recommend to help your organization improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs. The book is  not just for managers of service organizations but for marketing management, product management and senior executives.

This is a tremendous book laying out a systematic approach for better customer service. Predicated on the idea that customers want your product to “just work” and that they DON’T want a “relationship” with you, it challenges many of the customer service practices in most companies. The authors lay out a process with a number of steps:

1. Challenge demand for service don’t just cope with it. Act smarter so that the amount of support your customers need goes down

2. Eliminate “dumb” contacts and stupid repeated contacts through better processes and information

3. Create engaging self-service so people can help themselves

4. Be Proactive, don’t wait for trouble

5. Make it easy to contact you, not difficult

6. Fix ownership of problems so that you can eliminate the source of the problems, rather than blaming them on the customer service group

7. Listen to your customers and learn from what they tell you

8.  Delight your customers when they do need help

I love  the “bad examples” that permeate the book. They are so much fun to read -  how stupid so many businesses can be in real life. The bank that automatically routes calls from its best customers to sales associates, forcing them to sit through new product pitches before they have access to the simplest IVR tasks like transferring money, for instance, while “ordinary” customers get to breeze through the IVR and do what they want quickly and efficiently , or the IT company that, in an amateurish effort to be totally honest with customers, offered them  30,000 phone numbers to choose from worldwide !!!!!!

The book also includes a wonderful appendix: a Best Services Survey to help management self assess where they are on the ’service’ spectrum of providing ‘Best Service’. The questions for the survey are introduced in the respective chapters and scored at the end of the book.

The authors lay out a cure for the remote, impersonal organization where no-one in management ever talks to real customers. Any organization that has customer service “issues” could benefit from this book.  The book is loaded with tools and techniques that can be used in your own business, no matter how small large. The authors made the stories enjoyable to read and filled the book with realistic do-able ideas.

Bill Price is the ex-VP of Global Customer Service for Amazon. David Jaffe is a customer experience consultant out of Australia.  As a result, this book is international. Examples from all over the world are presented, not just those in the US.

In my many years of managing customer satisfaction for IBM in the areas of Software and then Strategic Outsourcing Services, we often used the techniques identified in this book.

Finally, the authors don’t really advocate No Service all the time. There are always going to be times when the customer will need to contact you. But the concept that customers want to acquire the product or service you provide and not need any service afterward is an ideal worth striving for.

For additional articles like this one, be sure to visit my blog; Customer Satisfaction and Reputation Management . To receive a free report "Six Proven Steps to Improve Customer Satisfaction" and subscribe to receive blog posts on Customer service and customer satisfaction by clicking here.

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