Is Customer Service Going to The Dogs?

dogsAs technology develops and, apparently, makes our lives easier, there seems to be a worrying downward trend in the service levels we receive.

Many online retailers seem to be reluctant to make it easy for their customers to get hold of them. Frequently, rather than finding a phone number or postal address, we are faced with anonymous enquiry forms (many of which never generate a response) or merely directed to an FAQ page.

It seems that to speak with a human today, we have to jump through hoops.

One such case in point  was brought to light by an article in PCPro. They reported that Talk Talk customers had, quite rightly, reacted with incredulity over the company’s decision to close its call centre in Waterford because it no longer needed so many support staff.

According to Talk Talk, the loss of 575 jobs came as a result of “call volumes across the whole of our contact centre estate falling by 40% year-on-year”. They also claimed that most of their customers now used web-based support.

In reality, the cuts will result in longer waiting times for support calls to be answered.

In a direct response to the story about the job cuts, one reader commented:

“It took me 35 minutes on hold listening to ‘musak’ when attempting to resolve a broadband issue at a customers’ premises yesterday. The customer used to be with Nildam, who are now Talk Talk. Nildram would answer in 3 rings. Service now…totally shocking!”

The claim that most subscribers now use online contact forms instead of telephone support has also been met with scepticism, with one reader suggesting that:

“Maybe that’s because people don’t want to phone 0845 numbers, which cost too much, only to be held in a seemingly endless queue and then be kept on the phone for 30, 40 or 50 minutes at a time.”

It does seem crazy that in today’s climate, companies are, apparently, cutting back in the areas customers most value – service. After all, what’s the point in signing up to new technological services if you can’t get hold of someone to help you when things go wrong?

Surely, it is far more important to invest in your customer service and be regarded as an outstanding customer-focused company, than cut back and hide behind your website?

If you want your company to stand out in your crowded marketplace, put the needs of your customers and not your shareholders first.


MPM Computer Consultancy offers IT services and training to sole traders and small businesses based in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages. They won the ‘Exceptional Customer Services Award 2009’ for Best of Bury St Edmunds.

What’s Your Customer Service Like?

customer service It’s tough out there. Customers are more demanding and the amount of competition is increasing, so delivering a great customer service is even more important today. Providing an excellent service time and again they can rely on is the best way to encourage customer loyalty. So what’s the best way to ensure your company always delivers?

Well, here’s our 4 step guide to great customer service:

1. Be interested

Always show an interest in your customers business. Find out what their expectations are. If it’s your first visit make sure you find out exactly why they’ve called you in. If it is a routine visit, make sure you constantly revisit the customer goals to make sure you are on track.

Quite often customers need guidance, advice, a solution or reassurance that you can help them with an appropriate solution. More importantly, they’ll want to know you will be there for them when they need you.

2. Be happy to be there

That might sound a bit odd and we all have customers who rub us the wrong way but, no matter who they are, you have to want to be there and remain focused on delivering a great service – even when things don’t go well. If you turn up wishing you were somewhere else, the customer will pick up on it which could make the situation a whole lot worse.

Sometimes you may not have the answer (you can’t possibly know everything) which is why having a good helpdesk you can rely on in an emergency is worth its weight in gold.

3. Fulfil your promises

If you say you’ll do something at a certain time by ringing or visiting your customer, make sure you do it. If you promise a third part will contact your customer directly, make sure they do by chasing them up and finding out what happened.

In a nutshell, treat your customers how you would like to be treated yourself.

4. Find a safe pair of hands

If you are a small company offering a big service, you will need a break from time to time. So finding a third party you can entrust your company’s welfare too is essential. Vet them to ensure they have the same customer service standards as you. That way you can take a break safe in the knowledge that everything is being taken care of and there’ll be no nasty surprises when you return.

When you do return to work, meet with your third party supplier to get a full breakdown of what happened in your absence so, next time you are called to a customer for a site visit, you are fully informed of what’s happened.

So, if you want to increase customer loyalty you need to:

  • Find out their needs
  • Make time to listen
  • Take care in solving their problems/concerns by providing an efficient service
  • Have a good backup service in the even of annual office closure

MPM Computer Consultancy offers IT services and training to sole traders and small businesses based in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages. They won the ‘Exceptional Customer Services Award 2009’ for Best of Bury St Edmunds.