Ten Signs your are offering a bad customer support service

Want to know whether your customer support service is good enough? Need to know whether your customers are satisfied or not? Check for the following ten signs.  If they exist then be sure your customer support needs a boost.
1- You are not directly communicating with your customers and not collecting their feedback on your level of service.  Some good examples are: online feedback forms, surveys, questionnaires, feedback collection phone calls …..
2- You do not have any targets or standards for performance.  This means your customer support employees do not have any standards to meet.  If you work without targets then you do not have a challenge to meet and hence you will not go anywhere.
3- You do not have any effective training programs (whether internal or external) to leverage your support team’s performance and refresh their minds every while.
4- You do not have a clear workflow that all support members follow clearly and without a flaw when serving a customer.
5- You have a set of de-motivated customer support employees.  This can be because they are not rewarded for extraordinary effort, or there is no room for growth or no room for acquiring new skills or they work in a bad environment…..
6- You are not watching your support staff closely.  By this I mean:
a.if your are offering customer support over the phone: overhearing their conversations with customers and recording them for future reference
b.If it is face-to-face support service with the customer: Watching their performance on shift and commenting on the spot (not in front of the customer of course). 
In other word you are not doing one-to-one sessions with each employee to show him where he went wrong and when he performed well and why.
7- You do not have a clear reward and punishment policy based on performance that is actually being implemented.
8- You are not willing to swallow some costs to compensate customers for bad customer support services they received from your employees.
9- YOU LIE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS. Whether regularly or once in a while to cover for an issue you have, in either ways lying is the worst thing you can do.
10- You are not easily accessible. Example: your phones are busy all the time, your web site is too heavy to load or always down, your support centers are not easy to find and visit (you are awkwardly located) , OR…..

I’ll give an example from one of the projects that I worked on.  I used to work as a Business Development Manager at an IT company that offered customer support services over the phone. They had most of the 10 fatal signs above:
1-They had a group of de-motivated employees
2-No defined workflow
3-No targets or standards to meet
4-No training program
5-Never thought of asking their customers what they thought of their service
6-No close monitoring of support center team performance
7-No clear reward and punishment policy
8-Lied to their customers all the time.

After I tackled the issues above, here is how their performance was boosted within the period of one year (we had a milestone after 6months and then contiued to improve):
1. Increased the average percentage of accepted calls per day from 50% to 94%
2. Improved the average speed of answer from 3mins to 21secs.
3. Increased the percent of cases resolved and closed in the same day from 57% to 64%
4. Improved the ability of call center agents to resolve cases without routing to other departments to increase from 35% to 57%
5. Improved the average case resolution time from 35hours to 20hours
6. We conducted regular surveys to collect customer feedback. Some where online questionnaires and others were quick short ones over the phone.  The scores in one of the short over the phone ones once we started collecting feedback was as follows:
In four questions (out of 5) respectively: 4,  4,  2.8 and 2
After 6 months of applying the new workflows the scores became: 4.9,  4.8,  3.6 and 4
The questions were:
A-How do you rate the CS representative in terms of: politeness – clear voice – attitude?
B-How do you rate the CS representative in terms of: understanding his duties – asking effective/reasonable questions – know the reason of the problem?
C-How do you rate the resolution time of the problem and avoidance of repeating it again?
D-Generally, how do you rate your experience in dealing with the support of X Company?

Want to enhance your customer service? watch the smallest actions

I went to Starbucks (City Stars branch) yesterday and I ordered an Earl Grey tea with milk. First the Starbucks employee told his colleague who was supposed to prepare my order “tea with milk”.  I had to remind him that I ordered it Earl Grey. He then said “yes Earl Grey”.  Then I paid him and he was supposed to give me back my change (10LE).   He did not and moved on to the next customer, I had to tell him that he did not give me my change.  He said “ah yes Oops sorry” and he gave me my money.  Then his colleague, who was supposed to prepare my drink, spilled some milk while pouring it in my mug.  He did not even bother to clean the mug; he just gave it to me dripping!!!! He did not even apologize.

This morning, I went to Starbucks again for my morning cup of tea but this time the branch beside City Center.  I ordered it take away and I asked him to add extra milk because he usually puts very few milk.  What happened is I regretted asking for the extra because when I got into my car and we started moving, the cup spilled on me.  He filled it too much till it became too close to the opening in the lid. Once we moved it started spilling.  I had to drink as much as I could very quickly ,and it was extremely hot, to make it stop spilling!!. I have to add here that the employee on shift is also not friendly at all.  Every time I go, he never smiles and he replies back in a rude way.  Once before I asked him to heat my croissant for an extra amount of time than he usually does.  His reply was astonishing: “It is ready khalas”.  Is that a reply to what I said?

I wonder if there were branch or shift managers available on shift, what would they have done in both cases.  Would they have noticed and took action or not? How would they rate this quality of customer service?

If I were the shift or branch manager in the city stars branch event for example, I would have apologized and changed the whole mug before giving it to the customer.  I would never have let the employee hand in a dripping mug to a customer.  And definitely I would have deducted from his salary for such an action.

Want to really offer your customer a high quality customer service? Watch your employees’ smallest actions. 

I miss you dad

Today is my father’s birthday.  Had he lived he would have turned 73. He died last April and yet I still feel that it was a week ago.  I miss him so much. I miss the way he laughed, smiled and talked.  I miss his advice to me.  I miss consulting him before I take any decisions. I miss the way he greeted me when I went to visit.  I miss his funny comments. I still sometimes feel that he will walk through the door and talk to me any minute.
On my daughter’s birthday last October, I wished he were there. It was her first birthday and he had lots of plans for it, I cried a lot because he missed it. I am still thinking about him all the time and I feel that I am turning to be like him in a lot of ways.
I feel so lonely and insecure without him, it is as if something is missing all the time but can’t explain what it is.  I feel so fragile without you daddy. I need you so much. I never imagined how much you are the source of my strength until I lost you.
My priorities changed ever since he died, I felt that the number one priority – after of course strengthening my relation with GOD – is to make sure that I please my Mom all the time.  To make sure that she is not mad at me for any reason.  To make sure she knows how much I love her and respect her.  I always feel that I never really made sure to let dad know how much I love him, respect him and how proud I am for just being his daughter.  I do not want to make the same mistake with my Mom.
I am so lucky to have my Mom and Dad as my parents.  They are really the best.  They were always my friends and not just my parents.

My dear dad, may GOD rest your soul in peace.  I am praying for you all the time and I hope we meet by GOD’s will in Al Ferdaws Al 2a3la in paradise ISA.

Self Awareness and the Effective Leader

Very Important article:

http://www.inc.com/resources/leadership/articles/20071001/musselwhite.html

Most of Egyptian managers pretend they know it all, when in fact they do not! They even go the extreme of harming the business because they do not want to learn what they do not know.  There is an illusion that a manager should be an expert in everything.

Read the article above, it is very true ….I even borrowed its title

This is What I call Customer Service

Do you want to reach the customer loyalty stage? Do you want your customers to believe that their satisfaction matters the most to you? Well, actions speak louder than words.  You have to treat them the way that makes them feel so.  Do not only use slogans about customer satisfaction in your marketing campaigns, customers will not remember any of those.  It is how they are treated that matters.

A couple of days ago I called a small pharmacy near my house to ask them to deliver some medicine.  The phone rang and they did not answer so I hung up.  A few minutes later I was surprised to find the pharmacy call me back and ask if I wanted anything and apologize for not answering.  Well!! This is what I call customer service.  I was happy to see that they keep track of their unanswered calls.  They are keen not to loose a single customer.  They made me feel that I really matter to them. To be honest this pharmacy was not the main one that I always get my needs from.  But after this action on their side, I felt comfortable calling them whenever I need something.  This is mainly because I felt that they are keen on every sale.  They really understand the meaning of customer service and their customers are important to them.

This is what I mean by concentrate on your actions.  You can say all the nice words in the world in your marketing campaign but your actions can spoil it all.