Customer Service is a two-way thing!

After 30 years of working in the customer service industry (many spent on service desk projects) one of the key issues revolves around communication between the service provider and the customer.

The reputation of IT is usually determined first and foremost by the performance of the Service Desk. There are common issues for both parties – that if addressed well can manage the worst of technical issues for a positive outcome for all concerned.

So, from the perspective of both parties – here are our top 5 Pleas…

Top 5 Customer ‘Pleas’

1.      Please manage my expectations
This one is key. Be specific. Do your service desk people let customers know what’s going on? Are they giving specific deadlines or being vague and “woolly”? Saying you’ll do your best or that you’re on the case isn’t at all rude yet can frustrate the customer to the nth degree as no specific timeframes are specified.

2.      Please tell me what’s going on
We often hear the complaint from service desk staff that they have too many incoming calls, are being hassled by impatient and irate customers. Ironically, this will often (and, to be fair, not always) be down to poor communication in the first place. Pro-actively giving the customer updates can prevent chasing, even if you have no specific news. A simple call saying “Just calling to reassure you we’ve not forgotten about you…” can be like balm for the troubled soul!

3.      Please understand me and speak my language
Listening is, without doubt, the most powerful tool in the service desk agents toolkit. Getting a full understanding of the issue and what lies behind it, not only facilitates a speedy and efficient technical fix but leaves the customer feeling as comfortable as they can be in the circumstances.

Using jargon-free, straightforward language helps oil those communication channels – a baffled or confused customer is a nanometer away from becoming an angry one, which can be potentially disastrous. Most costly messes have their root in a misunderstood communication!

4.      Please treat me with respect
There are no “difficult customers. Rather, customers experiencing difficulties. We can all be guilty of behaving in counterproductive ways when under stress or frustrated with a technical issue – especially if we have difficulty understanding it.

This doesn’t mean we can let people get away with such behaviours but deal with them in an assertive way, which involves listening (NOT tantamount to agreeing) and asking relevant questions. All of this in the spirit of working with the customer, rather than against them.

5.      Please be available to help me
Are you available? Literally, what hours do you keep? How easy is it to communicate with your service desk- do your customers have opportunity to deal with you face to face or is it just in written or phone form? And, are your people ‘really’ available to the customer when they are dealing with them, or simply going through the motions?

And, ultimately of course, it’s about getting the job done with minimum hassle!

Top 5 Service Desk agent ‘Pleas’

The alternative perspective which is just as important is that of the Service Desk agents themselves. Here are our Top 5 Pleas to the customers…

1.   Please involve me & keep me informed
As much as possible, keep your team members in the picture – this is about having a transparent working environment and being open about any new developments or changes. This helps build loyalty and a genuine desire to contribute and give it their best.

2.   Please acknowledge the importance of my role
Do you simply want a team of “operatives” or professionals who take a real pride in the work they do? As a manager or team leader, be prepared to encourage, praise and offer positive, as well as negative, feedback. Give them your time on a one to one basis, not just at annual appraisal time. Regular developmental one to ones are worth their weight in gold!

3.    Please listen to my feedback
Ignore feedback from those in the front line at your peril. Your team members will have access to information and intelligence that will help you improve your practices and uncover issues that may need resolving.

4.   Please be there, but also trust me to do my job
Make sure you are visible and involved. At the same time avoid micro managing – allow mistakes (within reason) but be there to offer support that will help team members learn from them.

5.   Please invest in me
Offer the support, training and resources to get the job done – it’ll pay dividends!

In the words of Richard Branson “Train people so they have the skills to take elsewhere with them but treat them in such a way that they won’t want to”.

If you are experiencing issues with your service delivery, Bright Horse offer in-house, bespoke training events for management and to help implement service desk and customer service excellence.

 

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