An experience I am currently having with Sony UK’s customer service leaves a lot to be desired, but it also provides some useful reminders for any company with a product or a service offering.
The scenario, familiar to most people, goes like this: courier delivers your (flagship) product which works for a day, but then breaks down. Soon after, your frustrated and very disappointed customer tries to get in touch with you expecting swift resolution. Here are some handy customer service pointers:
1. Do not double-charge for customer service
If your customer buys your 3-year-long customer service package, make sure there is a freephone number available for your customer to contact you. After having purchased your package, your customer might find that also being charged to call customer service is rather inconsiderate.
2. Set up a better email communication process
- On your website clearly mention the maximum amount of time it might take your customer service team to respond to an email enquiry.
- When you receive the customer’s email describing the problem, acknowledge receipt with a friendly automated message.
- Respond to the customer within the promised time frame.
- If for some reason you do not respond to the first (or even worse, the second or third email) plan to work a bit harder to demonstrate to your customer that you still care and want their business in the future.
3. User Twitter to deliver real customer service
Try to avoid using Twitter just to offload people to other touch points. Twitter can help improve your customer service but only if it is integrated in the background with your other customer service channels. If the teams that manage your various channels don’t speak to each other it is likely that you will deliver a service that is fragmented and uncoordinated (which, after the broken product debacle, could damage your brand even further).
4. Improve the experience on your website
Do not force your existing customers with website accounts to enter their full contact details when emailing customer service. After login, offer a simplified service where your customer is only required to write the message and where all other personal details are provided by the system. Even better, you could use the website to keep track of communication and therefore offer your customer a better and more immersive experience.
5. Acknowledge loyalty
If your customer has been consistently buying your products (especially the expensive ones) for 10 years, show some recognition. A thank you note would go a long way; a material token of your appreciation would go even further.
In our time, good customer service might require substantial investment in human and technical capital, but often it’s the small stuff that can make the biggest difference. The problem with a patchy customer service, coupled with a broken product, is that it creates a negative ripple effect that goes beyond your dissatisfied customer; especially when the product in question is truly new and innovative and everyone wants to have a closer look.