Have you ever been frustrated with the obvious lack of service in customer “service”, such as being footballed around, having to explain the problem again and again and being offered explanations that are insulting to your intelligence?

If so, you probably know that every once in while you find a person who can resolve the problem quickly and efficiently, when the previous ten warm bodies you talked to at the same organization couldn’t.

Why? My consulting experience suggests that the key issue in poor customer service is the ingrained belief that the lowest seniority employee, such as a CS agent, is a choiceless doer, while all of the decisions are made by the management. This is the good old “Brains in the centre, fools in the field” concept, which is so deep-seated, it is often incredibly hard to disabuse people of it. 

In fact, we all have a choice of how to go about our jobs, no matter how scripted they are. The only way to ensure great customer service is to develop the agent’s ability to make the right choices by asking the right questions. You cannot script everything – ever – because business environment does not stand still, but you can develop decision making and judgement.

Case in point. I use iContact to keep in touch with my network of clients and subscribers. Yesterday, I tried to send a time-sensitive communication about an upcoming event, but it just sat in the queue and did not feel like going anywhere. I called their Technical Support and spoke to a couple of people there who assured me that it would go out “soon”.

I fond the message still in the queue this morning.  I called again and was lucky to have my call picked up by Tyrone. He asked me about the steps previosly taken, listened well and escalated the issue promptly without wasting my time. He had to make decisions along the way and was not afraid to escalate when it was necessary.

All was resolved in about 30 minutes, while I was working on something else. As a customer, I am happy.

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