Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Customer Care Challenges

With competition rapidly increasing in the market place, the “product” is no longer a sole winner for any company. Customer Support has gathered importance like never before and every organization today has an increased focus towards the support function. The movie Rocket Singh which came a couple of years back, clearly portrayed the shift in the customer’s preferences.

Thus 24 x 7 Customer Care Centres have become a norm today. Even the smallest and insignificant company today boasts of a Toll Free Number. Major companies are now also resorting to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to engage with customers. No doubt there has been a tremendous improvement in the way customers get support as compared to the situation earlier. But there still is a long way to go when it comes to the “care” aspect of it or in terms of providing real support.

Firstly, the customer care executives, who answer your phone call / chat, are trained with Standard Operating Procedures on how to handle queries. When you mail a query, they just copy and paste an answer which is already a part of the FAQ they have been equipped with. The moment your query is different from the normal and frequently asked ones, comes the real test of the support system. Most of the times, the response I have received to a query I have asked is something that I already know.

Secondly, the response time to queries is a key indicator. The time taken to answer a call, the time it takes for you to navigate through the IVRS and get to what you are actually looking at, the time it takes to talk to a Customer Support Executive from the time you have dialed the number is pretty long on an average for most of the Indian companies.

Third is the question of empowerment. Most of these executives are hardly empowered to take decisions. As a result the call keeps escalating on and on till it reaches the right person. By that time, the caller usually loses patience. Imagine a situation when you are talking to an executive, have taken a long time to explain him your problem, and he is not in a position to solve it for you and you have to go through the same thing explaining it all over again to someone else. Alternately, you have explained everything to someone and you call gets disconnected for some reason. You do not know how to get in touch with the person you have already discussed the matter with!

What is important to be remembered is that a person calls the customer care only as a last resort. He usually calls only when he has tried and explored other means and methods to solve his problems. In such an instance, the quicker he gets a solution, or a direction towards it, the better. This requires people in such positions to be competent enough to answer any kind of queries that might arise. They need to be street smart and handle each and every query that comes their way. And most importantly, it requires a lot of patience to listen to frustrated and angry customers throughout the day and still manage to smile at the end of it all.

It is simply like this. Till the time it was not there, it really did not matter. But now that it has started, and now that people have been made to taste it, the demands will only increase. What started as a luxury, is today a necessity. What started as a “good to have” quality, has today become a “must have” quality of service delivery.


Ananth said...

Well explained.

S 4 Sandeep said...

"He usually calls only when he has tried and explored other means and methods to solve his problems."
This can happen only in the case of an informed user. Usually a user is not aware of other ways of dealing with the problem he/she is facing. So the best customer experience can be delivered by understanding the proficiency of the user wrt the problem. This is usually got from the user when they say "..even though I tried a particular thing, it still didnt work ..". Without this, we will be following the same process for all users ..