Sunday, December 15, 2013

What Does Fake Sign Language Have to Do with Customer Service?

By now, It's more than likely that you've heard the news stories about the reportedly bogus sign language interpretation at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. A man somehow got to the podium* and proceeded to make believe he was signing along to what the world's leaders were saying, when all he was doing was making random motions.

As I thought about this episode more, I realized that there's a widespread parallel in the world of customer service and customer experience: Brands that look like they are doing something to connect with customers, but which are only going through motions that bear a slight resemblance to getting it right.

We've all had the annoying experience of sitting on hold and waiting to speak with someone who can help us while hearing endless repetitions of the refrain, "Your call is important to us." I will wager that you either said out loud or thought, "If my call was important to you, I wouldn't be sitting on hold for 10 minutes, now would I?" I, for one, would rather hear where I am in the queue (third, fifth, tenth, etc.) and/or how long I'm going to have to wait. Better yet, I'd like the option to get a call back, but I digress.

Brands that are for real about their customer service have some common characteristics:
  • A culture of customer service
  • Employees who are empowered to make things right
  • Clear feedback channels - and the willingness to act on feedback
 (You can read more about these characteristics in my earlier post.) 

Brands know that customer service and a focus on positive customer experience is a 21st century differentiator, and may think that the appearance of good service is enough to get them more business. News flash: It isn't. 

If you are contemplating making customer service part of your brand promise, you must do it right. Be in it for real, or don't bother. Don't be known as a fake that just goes through some motions you made up.

Give it some thought.

*How this person got on the podium so close to so many leaders is a very scary thought; it was a very serious failure of security.

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