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What makes good customer service great?

Customer service survey using smiley faces

This week’s blog isn’t strictly about project management, but about a closely related topic – customer service. Many of our roles these days do include an element of customer service, and after all, what are our stakeholders and end-users but customers?

Recently, I had the (mis)fortune of having to communicate with two of our vendors about some problems I was having. Unfortunately, neither experience was particularly stellar – in fact one was the tip of a very large iceberg and has resulted in me looking for another supplier.

These experiences made me think  about how we at Psoda manage our customers and if there was anything we could do better. The answer was a resounding YES! We’re doing a lot of good things, but there is loads we can do to make it better – not just for our customers, but for our team too.

Here’s a list of the things we think are important for good customer service:

Acknowledge the customer contact

There’s nothing worse than sending a support request and having no response to your query. Whether you have an auto-responder or someone who actually replies to emails, please don’t leave your customer hanging. Even just something as simple as: “We’ve received your email and you can expect a response within….” – it’s better than nothing.

If you have a helpdesk number, make sure it’s appropriately staffed

Every time I contacted our now ex-vendor on their helpdesk number, it was answered by a receptionist or some other employee who couldn’t help. Yes, they took a message but it often took two to three hours for someone from the helpdesk to call me back and more often than not they didn’t have the right information.

If you run a customer helpline, , be sure the people who answer can actually help. If they can’t help directly, ensure it doesn’t take hours for someone qualified to respond to your customer!

Empower your front-line staff

I logged an initial support request with one of our vendors. It was a very simple fix – they sent me an email with an incorrect URL – and it took them four days to reply with the right one. Yes, you read that properly FOUR DAYS.

When I asked why it had taken so long to respond to a simple request, I was told that the support person I was dealing with didn’t have the access rights to resolve my problem. It had to be escalated up the support chain, with the associated low priority status, until it got to someone who could fix it.

All of this could have been resolved in less than half an hour if the initial support person was empowered to go directly to the person who could help.

Good customer service isn’t just about making the customer feel good, which is really important, but also about making your staff feel good. More often than not, a happy team makes happy customers!

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