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Customer Service content from Leo Nelson

Irony of Customer Service

Bad customer service from a country that handles the world’s customer service issues?

My recent trip involved a project trying to sign up for broadband access. I called the local provider and was promised that the connection would be setup within 24 hours as my area was wired for access. 24 hours later I call back and am told that someone will be at my location within an hour. After multiple such false promises, I stop by the provider’s office in person and am told that I have to wait at least 2 weeks before anything can happen. After a heated conversation I walked out stumped that they felt that false promises was just another day in business.

This entire episode took place in India where each call center prides itself on the high level of customer satisfaction. You may be able to train people to speak in American English or how to handle a customer service call, but trying to instill customer service in the culture is a whole other ball game.

On Switching to Cingular

I just ported my number from AT & T Wireless to Cingular Wireless. I knew that Cingular was set to buy AT & T, but couldn’t resist a really good deal. However, after cancelling my plan and committing to a 2 year contract with Cingular, I suddenly find myself having to deal with dropped calls and limited coverage areas. Nevertheless, I did get a Samsung P107 Camera Phone – a temporary device until the new Smartphones or PocketPCs hit the US market.

Knowledge Centered Support

Over the last year I’ve taken a much more avid interest in knowledge base solutions. During my internship at Unisys, I started working on the framework for a knowledge sharing platform. Infact, my internship timing was perfect, because Unisys was in the middle of a large roll out for the blue print marketing campaign. In essence, Unisys designed various solutions for industries and called each solution a blue print. For example, a frequent flyer program for the aviation industry was a blue print. So if Air New Airlinesio wanted a frequent flyer program, Unisys could deliver a solution based on the blue print. Common sense?

But factor in multiple languages, diverse needs, cultural restrictions, financial constraints and you see why many software consulting companies end up developing multiple solutions for a single problem.

In essence, knowledge has to be captured because you never know how valuable the knowledge is until it’s lost. Building on this concept, it seems logical therefore to assume that in various support scenarios a knowledge base of support issues can help radically reduce the time taken to solve a problem.

At a recent Help Desk Institute meeting, Judy Benda summarized a methodology for Knowledge Centered Support as:

– Create content as a by product of solving problems

– Evolve content based on demand and usage

– Develop a knowledge base of our collective experience to-date

– Reward learning, collaboration and contribution

The final goal, is to move from being reactive to proactive. In the case of a support center, the reactive center knows the answer and responds only when the customer requires help, whereas a proactive center moves the answer closer to and more accessible to the customer.

What is Customer Service?

Please note that this particular post is work in progress, because honestly every day I learn something new about the wonderful world of customer service.

For example, did you know that the Philadelphia Zoo uses the following core values to build a reputation for customer service:

Listen
Empathize
Action
Problem Solve

I also recall reading an interview that summarized customer loyalty as effective customer relationship management coupled with excellent customer service. So how would you define customer service?