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Online and offline good customer service is absolutely vital for a successful business.

So why is it that most customer service teams are among the lowest paid in a business and receive the smallest level of training?

I have to be honest, this blog post was formulated as a part rant triggered from some appalling customer service which I received this week from Tesco.

Without going into detail let’s just say that in addition to ticking off several of the points on why customer service is broken, the guy on the customer service line when I phoned was unhelpful to the point of being rude.

I cancelled the shopping completely and will not shop with Tesco again. I have been a regular food delivery customer for the past 18 months and, despite just moving round the corner from a large Sainsburys, was going to continue to use the retailer because I have been extremely happy with its service, products and deals.

On the assumption that I continued my monthly shop with Tesco and as my salary increases so will the value of my food shopping I estimate that in the next forty years I would have spent more than £90,000 with them. Instead I will shop elsewhere, even if the price is higher.

The whole issue got me thinking. Not only have they lost a loyal customer but I am angry enough to blog and tweet about it.

Whilst my singular bad customer service experience may not sway people away from Tesco the internet has given people a platform to share their experiences. If enough people leave bad reviews of a business online people will stop using them.

Let’s be honest, if you receive good customer service you may intend to write a review or leave feedback but it’s not a priority, you may do a Facebook status update or a tweet, if the business is lucky.

However, if you receive bad customer service on the other hand, you make the time to write a review or blog post and then promote it on your Facebook and Twitter accounts to your personal and professional network. 

Therefore, the negative impact of bad customer service is considerably more significant than the positive impact of good customer service.

This is both through the continued business, or not, of the customer and the customer’s reaction to their experience. Whichever way businesses want to approach this, they need to address the issue.

Customer service should be a vocation. People don’t need to go to University to be good at it, it should be a job that people may fall in to but they are highly trained in.

Customer service employees should not be drones who answer phones and have no power to actually help customers beyond listening to their complaints and pressing buttons on the computer.

They should be trained to:

  • Appreciate the customer’s situation.
  • Calm the customer down.
  • Call the customer back if it is necessary to put them hold for a considerable amount of time.
  • Offer the customer reasonable concessions for their trouble such as money off, free delivery or store credit.
  • They should have the necessary authority to deal with the customer's problem. 

Good customer service management and training is vital for business consolidation and expansion in an increasingly competitive environment where consumers are demanding more and more from businesses in exchange for their hard earned cash.

A bad experience turned good is the surest way of strengthening customer loyalty and creating a positive message about your business which people will talk about, tweet, put on their status and so on.

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Published 7 June, 2011 by Alexandra Gaiger

Alexandra Gaiger is SEO Project Manager at TUI Specialist and Activity Sector and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Alexandra on Twitter

3 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Leon

Hello Alexandra,

We're hardly going to disagree with you on this at The Institute of Customer Service :-)

We've been arguing the case for the link between employee training (and engagement), good service and profit for a long time - our most recent research is all about the ROI on good service.

We offer qualifications and shorter training courses (and not just for frontline staff - to us, it's all about creating a good service ethos throughout a company). As you say, it doesn't require a degree, but good service is a skill.

Although your experience was obviously a bad one, do you think companies are getting better as a whole?

over 5 years ago

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Alexandra Gaiger, Digital Marketing Architect at ThoughtShift Ltd

That research sounds interesting, it may open business's eyes to the fact that they are missing a trick.

As a whole I think the customer service issue is what is giving small businesses a competitive edge over big businesses because people will pay more for a better service. As to whether it is improving in big businesses, not in call centres of any kind, but in-store it really depends on the business but as a whole yes.

over 5 years ago

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ERS CRM

Good customer service is vital nowadays as customers will ultimately look elsewhere to save money. Businesses need to remember that it costs much more to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one.

over 5 years ago

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Eptica

It is very true that customer service agents need to be better valued by businesses – one way is to provide them with consistent, accurate information to do their jobs. A single knowledgebase that can be accessed by agents when dealing with phone and email enquiries and is available via the web and Facebook to customers can automate responses to basic queries, freeing up staff to spend time on engaging with more complex problems.

over 5 years ago

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