The fundamentals of great customer service – Part Two
Keeping hundreds of thousands of customers happy is a high pressure job. People’s blood, sweat and tears go into getting a website up and running and making it a success.
Confronted with this reality, Rob Jackson got to work.
“We need a new playbook”. The world has changed. The world of customer support has changed. Many of the assumptions that have guided how we think about support are no longer true.
And it all starts with a vision…
In this two part interview with Fasthosts Customer Operations Manager, Rob Jackson, we discuss the fundamentals and the evolving nature of providing great customer service.
Don’t worry if you missed Part One. Click here to check it out.
How important is customer feedback in improving your support services?
Feedback is very important. We’ve talked about measuring success, and this should include getting feedback, both good and bad. Good feedback is always nice, but it’s the negative stuff that is more important to us as a business. It tells us what we are not doing so well and where we need to make improvements.
There are always ways to improve. It’s very nice to see your satisfaction at a high level, but the success of today is not necessarily important to the success of tomorrow. A pat on the back is good, but as I said, negative feedback is what’s really important.
You need to listen to the people who are buying your products so you can shape your service around those expectations. Those are the people paying the bills and keeping you in the job.
What is your perception of the changes you’ve made to Fasthosts Customers Services department?
We are happy with the progress made over the last 18 months. That said, we don’t sit around and rest on our laurels. We are constantly looking to improve, pushing forward and looking for feedback and ways that we can evolve and improve the service.
Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, has recently been gaining plaudits for his innovative approach to “employees first, customers second”. What do you make of this approach?
I’m sure I’ve heard something similar from David Brent before, so I’m not sure how ‘innovative’ this idea is.
On the face of it, anyone would agree that having the right people in place is extremely important. You can have all the customers in the world but if your employees are not able to provide the right level of service then you will find your customer base will dwindle.
That said, I think it is a bit of a myth to say that the happier your staff are, the happier your customers are going to be. Some of the happiest staff in the world will be those who don’t have to do much all day and still take home a pay cheque. Does that translate into good business sense?
It’s a brave sentiment, but for me it’s just a vague sound-bite which may sell a few books but means little in the real world.
In practice, it should mean empowerment of and engagement with staff is key to driving your business forward and creating stronger relationships with your clients, rather than simply putting your staff’s needs before those of your customers.
So, if he’s really saying “empowerment first, everything else second”, then I would agree.
With empowering your staff comes accountability, how important is that within the organisation?
Of course accountability is required, but it isn’t and shouldn’t be a burden.
Empowerment isn’t about creating a free-for-all. It’s about creating a culture of trust within your organisation, where everyone takes a shared responsibility for the performance of the business, whatever their role or position.
You tend to find that if you give people no responsibility, they take no responsibility. But I’m always amazed at what people can achieve if they are given a bit of freedom to do what they feel is right.
How do you innovate and improve customer service when there is too little feedback or too much?
If you’re looking for feedback and you are not finding you are getting much then it probably means your customers are not that engaged with you. That’s a worry for any business. So it’s about getting out there and looking for it, not just passively expecting it to come to you.
You have to hustle for it, be brave, and expose yourself to opinions that aren’t always going to be positive.
It’s probably more difficult when you get lots of feedback. But with some decent analysis you will always find patterns which can help you to best direct your efforts.
Finally, any last words of advice?
A building is only as strong as its foundation. Whatever you do, always make sure you are getting the basics right.