There is a difference between customer service and world class customer service. It would be nice if all companies strove towards world class customer service but unfortunately it seems that the former is the status quo. No company is too big or too small however to practice the latter. The ultimate result in my opinion of practicing world class customer service is that your customers will simply appreciate you more in the long run.
Recently I attempted to make a purchase online using my Lowes credit card. When I got to the checkout and inputted my card there was a field asking for my 3 digit security code. I have an old card and it doesn’t have a 3 digit security code. I couldn’t checkout because it was a required field. There was a help message that said if I had an old card without the 3 digit code I could call customer service and request a new card.
I prefer automation as much as possible. It is so much more convenient. I logged into my Lowes credit card account online and sent an email message explaining I couldn’t order online and why and requesting them to send me a new card. After a few days I received a message back that was all nice and sweet and explaining how valued I was and I could call this toll free number and speak to someone to request a new card.
In my opinion this is a perfect example of a lack of real world class customer service for many reasons.
1. The website was unfriendly to me. After all I am a registered customer. I am using their own credit card. My address on file and the address the product would be going to is one and the same. So security concerns aside, authentication is rather simplified. The website should let people with an old card use it without a security code required.
2. If there is no way it is possible to override the required security code feature, people with older cards should have been automatically sent a new card once the company knew they were putting in place a measure to require security codes.
3. Once I requested one via the secure email system (which goes to customer service) I shouldn’t have been required to “jump thru a hoop” and call the customer service department to request one. One should have simply been mailed to me. Again, they have my address on record and considering my monthly relationship with them (like paying my bill every month) they know it is valid.
As it was, I purchased the same product I was interested in at the time from their competitor.
What happens here is a company has systems, protocols and methods in place to represent their customer service. Everything is rigid to a certain point and no one can do anything to adapt their service to a particular customers need if it doesn’t fit within the confines of the system. They cannot think outside of the box or act on an immediate present and clear need in an individual situation unless it is within the structure of the system they’ve created in the name of customer service.
World Class Customer Service is different. Sure there are systems in place to deal with the necessary things that come up. But there is also a system to quickly and easily escalate a customers problem or desire so that their situation can be addressed as simply as possible for the customer without requiring the customer to do anything further once they’ve expressed their need and we know it is something we can solve or fix for them, or at the least, minimal interaction required from the customer. And individual customer service agents are empowered as much as possible to effect these solutions and trained in this regard.
And I think that is the point. Finding ways to have the front line service team empowered to solve the problems for the customer as quickly and efficiently as possible without requiring further interaction on the part of the customer. It is noticed when it works that way just as it is equally noticed when it doesn’t. Either way, there is a net result in the mind of the customer.