In the past, I have written about the importance of consistency in delivering a great service experience. In my opinion, you will likely win at the service game if you deliver good, no great, customer service consistently (rather than having it great one time, average the next, and not-so-good the next time). I want to highlight a critical component of delivering consistently great customer service which is not taking loyal customers for granted.
Whack-a-Mole is hilariously fun at first, yet it quickly becomes tedious and repetitive. Just imagine having to play it for a living. If you manage a customer facing team or function, that’s what you may feel you’re doing when dealing with customer service issues. You run from one problem to the next, stopping just long enough to apologize or extend a goodwill credit before dashing to the next fire.
If you’d like to stop playing customer service whack-a-mole, consider using “continuous improvement,” a management method made common by Toyota and other manufacturing companies to help identify, fix, and prevent production errors. Continuous improvement works on customer issues, too.
I cannot say if customer service is, in general, improving or getting worse. The American Customer Satisfaction Index suggests that customer service improved until mid-2014 but has been trending downward since. It is probably growing in some industries and not in others. Personally, I am occasionally impressed with the service, but the service I receive is “adequate.” I give talks frequently, and I often start the presentation by asking who can recall a positively memorable service experience in the last few months. Typically, I will see a smattering of raised hands. If asked about unsatisfactory service experiences, the number of hands raised is usually far larger. Is Customer expectation changing or is consistency slipping?
You receive a customer feedback survey and on the “likelihood to recommend,” question she responded with an “8”. In the NPS* scoring scheme, she is a passive customer. When the interviewer asked why she gave the rating, her response was “I do not score higher than that as there is always room for improvement” and the survey comments do not provide any clues about her rating.