Customer service more customer-oriented
Up to now customer service activities have been wrongly associated with tasks which did not require much knowledge, creativity or experience. The new approach to this field within the business services sector has turned it upside down. Companies are more and more aware of the advantages coming not solely from the high quality of their product, but also from putting their customer in the very centre of attention – from the moment they ask for product details, through learning about deal conditions, up to after-sales activities.
Customer-centricity is the term to describe one of the most important trends in modern customer service. It is aided by technology, including mobile solutions, social media or even web message boards, which have already changed a lot in companies’ approach to customers. Every self-respecting organisation is good at meeting its target group’s expectations, while at the same time invites customers to co-create products and services. We are no longer in the era of centrally planned options. Customer-oriented activities facilitate flexible dialogue, through which customers feel that their opinions are valued and shape the service they get.
Modern customer service follows one rule – it focuses on what customers feel, not what they think. Research shows that in the USA in 2013 65 per cent of surveyed people admitted experiencing a faster heart rate whenever they were informed about getting the highest quality of service. The most surprising part of the survey is however that more than half of those over-excited customers experienced the same heart rates which are generally associated with being in love (American Express Service Study, 2013).
What is also interesting about customer service activities is that it is one of the few areas where more technology equals more importance of humans. Customer service obviously does not stray from technological gimmicks – starting with ERP system solutions, through innovative sales tools and finishing off with big data customer experience analysis. Nevertheless, data and figures deduced thanks to technology are just half the challenge, since customer loyalty is shaped not only by company’s offer, website or app. Experts, who are familiar with the product and able to answer customer queries, are the most important players in this process. Customers are fed up with virtual advisors who make them wait to get to the helpline for hours on end. They expect a real-life conversation with a person who is going to direct them to the simplest solution. Organisations such as mBank, Amazon, Asos, Fiat or Bank of America have decided to bet on applications which allow their customer service teams to work through video chats, which have been dynamically developing since 2013.
The picture above would not be complete without two other factors which are key to modern business. The first one is multichannelling, while the second one revolves around Millennials. Having a large number of channels is crucial for every company’s customer service activities, since customers like having a choice. They expect both native mobile apps as well as support from a kind person on the other end of the helpline accessible 24/7. This continuity of contact is particularly requested by customers born in the 1980s and 1990s, who give the same importance to product quality and price, maybe with more advantage for the former. Price wars are not an issue anymore in the global economy. Generations Y or Z have a wide access to similar products that cost almost the same, so what makes them drawn to a particular company? Positive feelings that are to be associated with it during and after the purchase. This is not however the end of the story, since such pleasant experience means also real income for a given company investing in A to Z customer service based on modern technologies and expert training for consultants. Researchers describe the collision of customer experience with the actual offer as net promoter score. In practice, the term denotes the ratio of customer loyalty revolving around one key question: would you recommend this company to your friend or family member? Welcome to the world where customer experience has the highest possible value. Brand ambassadors are therefore the most efficient tool to promote a product or service. In a nutshell – never before has trust been so important in business. After all, if customer service has been on a constant high level, customers are more willing to turn a blind eye on their favourite company’s mistake – at least that is what is proven by a survey by Temkin Group done in 2015, which examined thousands of customers using services provided by 293 companies in 20 different fields.
The aforementioned access to multiple channels (sometimes also called omnichannelling) involves the merge between three key elements of customer contact – the electronic factor (including mobile solutions), telephones (remote contact) and stationary contact (e.g. visiting a company). The number of companies relying solely on digital retail is growing and therefore a new phenomenon of contact centres has appeared on the business horizon. These dynamically developing units serve as a great starting place for those looking for a new career. The tasks range and are focused not only on answering phone calls. They may include replying to queries, claim support, training or quality assurance. Each of these fields requires knowledge and development. Is experience necessary? Not at all. In Poland, contact centres develop rapidly thanks to foreign investments and the main obligatory condition to start your career there is foreign language proficiency. Foreigners joining us in Poland for university studies can combine pursuing higher education with gaining professional experience with the use of their mother tongue. Business centres in Poland provide service in 37 languages and on average each centre uses 8 of them, which makes those equipped with this precious knowledge invaluable for the ongoing development. A candidate’s further career is entirely in their hands. Poland is currently a perfect example of a candidate’s market, which guarantees full support for young employees provided by their employers. Work schedules can be adjusted to university timetables and career paths can be planned together instead of being imposed by higher-level management. Apart from that, induction trainings and promotions are available for all interested workers. The most common position in this branch is Customer Service Specialist/ Representative/Consultant, and basic requirements include communication skills, proficiency in English and openness to working in an environment with new technology.
The word ”consultant” appearing in customer service job advertisements is by no means coincidental. Contact centre employees are supposed to advise customers while realising that professionalism is their company’s showcase. Organisations are increasingly aware that job rotation in customer service areas brings them no good and as a result of that want to invest in employee development. The jobs therefore need no longer to be associated with unambitious tasks.
Customer service areas are going to gain even more relevance in the future. Young people discarding them ought to think twice. After all modern contact centres in Poland are perfect for gaining independence and experience.