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Customer service is an essential part of running a business. However, many companies don’t utilize it as a focal point of their brand like they should. Getting too comfortable with average customer service lets this key point of communication occasionally slip through the cracks. A good customer service reputation could be the difference between maintaining customer loyalty or having distrust surrounding your brand. 

A 2017 survey from American Express found that 33% of American customers would consider switching brands after just one bad customer service experience. While that number might seem slightly insignificant, the average American was also sharing a lousy customer experience with 15 other people on average, so it becomes a snowball effect. According to a Business Insider report, it could take up to 12 positive customer experiences to make up for a single bad experience. 

The current product oversaturation of nearly every primary market makes it increasingly more important to stand out from other brands, and memorable and compelling customer experiences could be the ticket. 

What is Good Customer Service? 

Meeting high expectations in customer service starts with effective leadership and planning. The goal of any customer service experience should be for them to walk away from the interaction feeling heard and adequately helped. If a company’s tone doesn’t allow its employees to feel heard, how can they expect customer service reps to deliver that experience to customers in need? 

Forbes points out that typical customer care deliverables like the number of support tickets and handle times are critical; however, the emphasis placed on those data points should never come at the expense of the customer experience. It comes down to authenticity and transparency. So who’s leading the pack? 

One company setting exemplary customer service standards is Sweetwater. The musical instrument company has won multiple awards for their customer service measures. 

“My Sales Engineer is a rock star. Not only does he know his stuff, but he is hands down the most considerate and professional sales rep I have ever dealt with for any purchase. I am a life-long customer of Sweetwater and have outfitted my studio with the best products at the best prices.” – Jim G. 

The critical point of this review is to recognize that his major takeaway was that the company met his needs and that they were considerate in doing so. This underscores the importance of compassion and empathy in customer service. Another crucial takeaway is that the consideration expressed by the customer service rep has locked in a life-long commitment from a consumer, which is the ultimate goal. 

Accessibility is also a facet of customer service often overlooked by brands. Having a staff that is compatible with any customer that is dealing with any disability is imperative. It is ineffective if your customer service can only serve a certain margin of customers. 

The director of customer care at Zesty Paws shared an antidote with Forbes that involved a customer that contacted the brand because she was searching for the right product for her pet’s specific needs. She had tried many other companies but could not find a perfect fit. The Zesty Paws team spent enough time with the customer to correctly identify the issue and come up with a solution that met her pet’s exact needs. Weeks later, the customer called back with a dazzling review of the product and the customer service. The company now has a loyal customer. This could be the turnover every single time for companies if they utilized their customer service correctly. 

Call Wait Times

However, the pandemic affected the efficiency of customer service. Bloomberg notes that pandemic shake-ups, job vacancies, more people working at home, and bored callers with time to chat — customer-service wait times are soaring in the US.

According to call-center analytics firm CallMiner the average length of a service call rose by several minutes since the pandemic started. During the lockdown, callers were so desperate for human contact that they began to “talking about the pandemic, the vaccines, the political climate,” said CallMiner CTO Jeff Gallino. 

A 2021 study of call-center leaders that Forrester Research did for CallMiner said that 68% of respondents admitted that the phone was a new “empathy channel for customers,” and 70% said their agents were dealing more emotionally charged consumers. This shift can also be seen in physical retail, but the cellular uptick is harder to mitigate. However, despite the higher volume of calls, the quality of the calls remained consistent. 

There are around 3 million customer-service workers nationwide. Before Covid-19, as many as 90% worked in office settings. He sees the industry settling into a 50-50 split among in-person and at-home workers, but now, the workforce is mainly working remotely and resisting change. Migrating to work from home could potentially promote even healthier, more empathetic, and productive customer service conversations than sitting in the office due to the sheer comfort of their surroundings. 

As society becomes more emotionally charged from the pandemic’s isolation, there is also a shift in the customer service culture. Empathy is becoming crucial, and a solid customer service procedure could be what catapults brands into true success. As technology and life become more complicated, customer service is becoming more vital.

Photo by Luis Villasmilon Unsplash