Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/customer-service-revisited-kamyar-shah
Published on March 18, 2016
Customer is the king or so we have been told. But is it really true? It depends on who you ask.
Much like everything else in business customer service and its respective impact on commercial entities are a juggling act. Let’s have a look at the different perspectives.
I once heard a CS manager say “Who ever said that the customer is the king never had a job that involved customer service”. Though I don’t agree with the sentiment it dawned on me that those who we rely on to provide customer facing services may perceive their obligation differently than it is intended.
Let’s face it. If your CS rep feels that customers are trampling all over them, how will they find the will to perform with conviction day in and day out? The other side of the same situation may be equally important. Does the CS rep need to perform with conviction?
Owner / Stakeholders
We all heard it before: customer is the king and customer is always right. Though I agree with the sentiment it may be a bit too far reaching and abstract. Yes, we are in business to service our clients to best of our ability. We all heard this one “Every customer is the most important visitor on our premises…” but is it really true? Is the customer really the most important visitor?
Of course if taken literally the answer is yes. No business can survive without customers but does it serve our interest to crown customers as “King”? What if that “King / Queen” creates unforeseen costs in terms of morale? How about if that customer costs the business more than just time?
“If I don’t get the service and support that I like I will take my business somewhere else”. Sounds familiar? It not only sounds familiar to me, but I must have said it a few hundred times myself. Naturally there is nothing wrong with that. A well run business is obliged to compete for customers and their respective patronage.
But what is the limit? What differentiates a “reasonable request” vs. “ad hoc annoyers”? Does a $50 purchase entitle a customer to $100 worth of customer service?
Generally speaking, one could easily shrug off the above by assuming faults or short comings in business model or operations management. Equally, one could just assume that the right HR processes in hiring can avoid all of the potential. But that would be a bit to simplistic and inherently risky.
Cost vs. Benefits
It is important to understand the pitfalls of “free styling” or “shooting from the hip” when it comes to customer service. In today’s age a single bad customer service review can live on for years publicly and sway new or even existing customer to avoid a business. Imagine the negative impact of multiple such bad reviews across different platforms and social media and I am sure you see how expensive it can get.
So now what? Who is right? Who is wrong?
As a consultant my natural reaction and answer would be “It depends”. Yes, I realize it is cliché and an open ended response that would minimize potential criticism.
In reality however there is an actual answer and solution to it. The answer is balance the cost vs the benefit in the long term by using a proven methodology / concept such as Net Promoter (And No. I am not selling anything AND I am not affiliated with anyone that does)
The Net Promoter and the likes have been around for a while in one way or other. However small businesses have not seen it championed in a way that would put it on their radar. From personal experiences I have not met too many small business owners that were familiar with such methodology.
The final answer: all three prospective i.e. CS personnel, business owners and customers have valid points of view that needs to be taken into account. In order to achieve a sustainable balance one has to turn to an established methodology that allows for a closed loop survey and communication in order to optimize customer service.
The bottom line : Use a methodology !!!!