Thursday, February 23, 2017

What makes Kickass Customer Service ? HBR, Jan '17, my Tata Motors experience ..

The service we offer to customers in the final spell is what makes our customer really happy in the long run, ensuring repeat orders and spreading the good word around..
Recently for example, i had to sell my ten year old Tata car. On approaching the Tata customer service, I got a very positive reply, they were helpful, comforting and finally I am disposing the car with help from the service centre people from Concorde Motors in Silk Board, Bangalore.

Now I am thinking of purchasing my next car too from Tata Motors. Tata Motors, after buying out Jaguar LandRover of UK, collaborating with Italian automobile design firms and planning to technically collaborate with Volkswagen from Germany, the world's second largest automobile manufacturer, is set to dominate the global automobile industry in the next hundred years ..

What makes excellent customer service ?

Customer service is a very costly proposition to Industries. It is said that on an average it costs  a B2C company almost $7 to attend to a live call and $ 13 for a B2B company to attend to a live call. As industry focus is shifting more to customer satisfaction and delight, rather than concentrating on giving the customer the best product or service through an initial superior design, it is also important that an effective after-sales service network exists, to attend to customers who have genuine issues waiting for resolution.

In Harvard Business Review, Jan '17, I came across an excellent article titled "Kickass Customer Service". Authored by industry people, Mathew Dixon, Lara Ponomareff, Scott Turner and Rick Delissi, the article compares the different traits of service personnel across industries in a study conducted on 1440 respondents across the world.

We need to understand when customers go to the service centres or ask for service from service personnel. It is found from the study that on an average, 81% of all customers try to solve the matters themselves before reaching out to service people. So it is for expert advice and expert actions that customers finally reach out to the customer service professionals across industries.

From among all types of customer service personnel, in the sample group,

  • Empathisers , listen sympathetically, understands others problems, shows genuine concern for others, formed 32%. 
  • Hardworker type, who follows rules and procedures, are persistent and deadline oriented were about 20%. 
  • Controllers were of the opinionated type, they are outspoken, demonstrates expertise and directs customer interaction were about 15%,  
  • Rock, the optimists constituted 12%, 
  • Accomodators, involved the customers in decision making and constituted 11% of the sample.
  • Innovators constituted 9% of the sample, always identified ways to improve processes and procedures and generate new ideas, 
  • Competitors, constituting just 1% of the sample who always were stressing on winning, outperforming their colleagues and changing other's views. 
The controllers were the group of service people who came first in terms of customer impact and effectiveness.  It was found that Controllers in general take charge of the following actions
  • advise customers what they should do, rather than what they usually do
  • get to problem resolution fastest by taking charge of the situation and the work
  • they resolve additional potential problems
  • they want to be heard and are interested in continual improvement
  • they solicit feedback from representatives and involve them in decision making
  • they are empathetic and understand that customers dont want apology but solution to problems
It is found that the controller mindset in service personnel cannot be taught in the classrooms, it can only be learnt on the job in a manager led coaching setup.

It is found from the study, it is proactive. empathetic approach at presently existing and future possible problem solving which delights the customer.

Hope service personnel around the world take this advice and suitable refine their processes to make customer service a very enjoyable experience for everyone.

Click here for a copy of the presentation I gave to my colleagues in Alliance University, Bangalore on March 1, 2017.


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