The 4 pillars of customer service

22nd Mar 2017
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Customer service, in its very essence, is the pathway to success for brands. It is the consumer who faces the product, and they rarely meet the people behind its production. He or she simply interacts with its brand custodians through customer-service. Essentially, no amount of white-washing with celebrity endorsements, offers and discounts, and PR publicity can overcome the challenges of facing a seven-minute call with a bad service representative.

Many healthy brands, such as ICICI, Apple, and Vodafone, have a great outlook towards customer service. For premium and mid-premium service offerings, they provide doorstep customer care and have deep loyal customers in most cities. Spokespeople are easily recognisable as brand icons and customer care representatives are easy to access in most markets.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

However, service levels across industries have been declining for years now. With a more stringent approach to social media marketing, employee and staff training, as well as customer care (and escalated queries), talking to a service rep isn’t what it should be in 2017.

There are four lines of customer service processes that must be adhered to in order to increase brand loyalty and customer recall. These are:

Inbound pre-purchase care

To effectively run a tight ship, customers must be made aware of varying lines of services and products that they would be interested in. Inbound pre-purchase calls, store-walk-ins, and online or inbound leads are the bread and butter for most brands in India. Requests stemming from information to productivity output can make or break the brand from the get go. A word-of-mouth channel can easily waste away if the prospect leaves with a sense of distrust.

Outbound pre-purchase care

These are the annoying messages and calls that you receive from customer care executives. Here’s when you hire great cold call experts and teach your staff how to execute with proper form and etiquette. Major brands that top the list of ‘most preferred brands’ and ‘best brands of the year’ have terrible service care, and there are stories of cease-and-desist threats from small businesses to stop calling in their premises.

Post-purchase care

This is the deal breaker which decides whether your brand is going to stay on the long course or if trials and tribulations will make it obsolete in 10 years. Post-purchase care is the new normal for customer care executives that avoid breaking calls in the middle to accomplish the task at hand.

Fatal customer care

Fatal calls are the bane of the customer service industry in India. These calls are from disgruntled customers who seek retribution along with assurance that the product will work the next time around. Fatal calls are a business statistic for many op-heads but are a marketer’s frustration point when any marketing activity leads to more attention towards competitors, which leads to more attrition from the existing company. A reminder from a dissatisfactory service provider turns fatal when the query hasn’t been resolved.

Some simple ways to introduce better customer care, at a budget, are as follows:

Facebook Messenger

Have Facebook Messenger be at the forefront of your customer service line. Customers are far more likely to be satisfied if they can follow up from Facebook and book requests from the app directly.

Good Web UI

Have your phone number clearly stated above-the-fold for any customer to quickly reach you in two steps at the most.

Good etiquette

Always speak to the customer in a calm and relaxed manner regardless of how angry they might be. This is a deal killer in the B2B space

Follow up

Always follow up via email and/or SMS thanking the customer for their continued service and loyalty to the brand.

Customer care is important, and building one for your brand and company is one of the things that should be accomplished at the planning stage itself. After you’ve mastered your customer care plan, you can begin to make it an upsell pipeline for add-on products. Zapoos, which was acquired for $2 billion by Amazon, routinely has 30-minute calls with customers who just like to chat. Zapoos has left a mark on customer service, something that has led copycats around the world to fail miserably making Tony Hsieh a living legend.

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