It’s easy to talk the talk in customer service, reassuring customers that you’re ‘doing everything you can’ or ‘someone will be in touch’. Delivering on promises is harder. At Advanced, we know that businesses do best when they walk the talk – when they take action, follow up and ensure customer satisfaction.
Customer service has become intrinsically linked with the success of an organisation’s brand ethos around quality, excellence and capability. In the wake of Brexit and political unrest, there’s an increasing uncertainty around international trade agreements and the impact this will have on the manufacturing sector. With the fragility around contracts and supply chain decisions, excellent customer service is more important than ever.
Much of the focus of the digital revolution within manufacturing is on the production process. Those businesses that aren’t investing in the latest technologies to take control of digital innovation across their entire business, will inevitably struggle to reach excellent levels in their customer service. That will lead to a genuine disconnect between manufacturers and their target markets, at a time when it is vitally important to be strengthening those relationships.
When customer service is done well, however, it is responsive, excellent and innovative, and truly transforms a business. Customer service was one of the first areas of business to be impacted by digital technologies.
It’s clear from looking at the 2016 Customer Satisfaction Awards* that innovative online brands like Amazon are doing customer service better than anyone else. Their speed, accuracy, digital flexibility and personalised customer experience has raised the bar for consumer
expectations. While the customer service activities of a massive online retailer represent the next stage after the manufacturing supply chain, there is much that can be learned. Despite online being a different sector, its seamless dominance in people’s consumer habits means that customers are now used to a certain level of service. Immediacy of response via chat, that’s accessible 24/7, is just one of the ways that businesses of all kinds can bring their customers closer to them. If you contrast that with the traditional ‘your call is important to us, please hold the line’ approach, it’s clear that customer expectations have been heightened by a commitment to digital innovation in certain sectors.
Manufacturing needs to recognise that companies like Amazon have created a ‘new normal’. The consumers of today demand new ways of learning, trying, exploring and adopting, and that the ability to talk about your products and services on social media is important. The sector must innovate quickly if it wants to keep up.
As simple step forward is to consider putting forums in place to secure feedback from customers about your service. These could be face to face or online. But bear in mind you have to finish what you started (walk your talk), as it’s important to respond to and act upon feedback, whether on the phone, online, or via social media. If someone has taken the time to engage with you, they’ll expect to see that you’ve listened to what they had to say. And make sure any changes are aligned across all touchpoints: marketing, operations, customer service, finance and HR, with all departments working together.
With Advanced, we can help you to reimagine your business and transform your service to make it real-time, secure and personalised. Customers will be surprised and delighted if you track technological innovations in your sector, invest in them and evolve them to meet their changing needs.
Do all of these things and your business will be rewarded with customer loyalty and increased revenues. Internally you’ll also save your employees a lot of hassle by reducing delays, stress and fire-fighting. Externally you’ll have a positive impact on your brand image and reputation.
* from the UK Institute of Customer Service