Recently, I was talking to the customer service people of our mobile service provider. I had one of the worst experiences, and am now thinking seriously about changing our mobile service provider.
To overcome the feeling of anger and frustration, I decided to have dinner at a nice restaurant around the corner near my house. I had a wonderful evening with their excellent customer service. While returning home, these two contrasting instances got me thinking about the importance of customer service and whether we go about it the right way in our company.
In my opinion, customer service can teach us so much, especially when your company is new or when you launch a new product. Taking care of your customer support is the best way to learn how your customers are faring with the product. Of course, you would test and validate your product many times before releasing it into the market. But once it reaches the customers, they will use it in the most innovative ways. Their ways of using your product are sure to baffle you. Do not be surprised if your predictions turned out false as the features you expected to be used the most ended up being used the least, and vice versa.
You can rarely know what your customer will do with the product once he gets his hands on it. This makes customer service your learning ground where you can fix various bugs, find out more about your product’s usability, change some features that are not being used often by users, and find out ways of marketing.
As most of our support is technical, it becomes difficult for developers to answer the queries of those who are not well-versed in technology. But we make it a point to have every developer have a face-to-face with our clients and customers. This only works to enhance their understanding and knowledge.
In the early days of your company or your product, customer service provides a wonderful learning opportunity. All the employees should get to interact with customers and clients in order to understand what works and what does not, and use this knowledge to create better products. Creating another layer of people between the makers and the users will only complicate matters and no issue will be resolved satisfactorily. There will always be a gap between expectation and deliverables. Making your team interact directly with consumers will help them (and you) identify the target audience, thereby avoiding the effort to please everyone.
I agree that customer service can be painful and the effort you put into it may seem greater than the returns, but in the end, everyone will only learn from it.