Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Customer Service Lesson #1: Help Me Not To Worry

I buy things, often.

I sell things, sometimes.

I don’t like shipping - at all.

It’s an irksome, worrisome, expensive process where things can easily get messed up.

On the positive side, this makes it an excellent industry to use as a focus area. One that can help us think about great customer service and how to implement it in any organization.

Think about it. Customer service is something we take for granted. Because you don't really need it unless there is something to worry about.

However, isn't it true that there is frequently something to worry about?

So companies that handle worry well, are set up to win and keep customers. Who are, after all, a source of money.

Customers will turn to great customer service providers in times of need. And they'll remember where to go when there is nothing to worry about at all. Because something can always go wrong.

Therefore, looking at three major providers of shipment services - FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service*, and UPS, here are some quick "do's and dont's" I have learned. All are based on my personal experience. Note that I am not endorsing any of them.

The two-second summary:

When it comes to a customer-service-intensive process like moving things from place to place, I prefer a company that -

  • I can easily remember how to contact by phone
  • Doesn't quiz me endlessly for information in order to get the task done, and
  • Literally delivers with no glitches - quick and simple.

That, to me, is great customer service. For any company.

Here's an in-depth analysis (see table):

Brand

Good

Bad

Takeaway

FedEx

Great brand. Memorable, memorable, memorable. The color scheme, the phone number, everything. I instantly think of them when I have to ship something and want it there fast and reliably – even though I know it will cost more.

Telephone customer service representatives facilitate everything – you don’t need a label, a box, or anything

Knowledgeable, friendly, helpful customer service representatives (same as FedEx)

They were willing to correct an overbilling mistake, but I had to let them know about it - they didn't notify me

Beyond the simple things, it’s tough to get an answer – like a comprehensive telephone quote for a shipment that includes all fees

· Daunting online shipping process. (Make it easy – I want to hand the money over and get the shipping taken care of.)

Make your brand memorable

Get a good telephone number and make sure it works well

Telephone customer service is critical to your success

Educate customer service representatives to answer questions comprehensively

Catch and fix mistakes before the customer does

If you offer online self-service, make it easy to use

U.S. Postal Service

Pretty good brand. Memorable color scheme, ubiquitous locations, consistent process.

Facilitator helps people standing on the line at the post office to complete simple tasks

Flat rate shipping

TV commercials good at raising awareness, and the personification of the mailperson is effective

Great online experience – easy to create account, print label, ship or arrange for pickup

Easy to get supplies for shipping

Knowledgeable, friendly, helpful customer service representatives

What telephone service?

You don’t have to be perfect to be good enough

Lessen the pain of standing on a line by helping customers get off the line

TV commercials can be a good adjunct to your advertising if used well, and spokespeople are critical to their success

Give away supplies for free, so that people use your service

UPS

Packing service at the stores is first-rate. If you can get there.

Brown who? I remember the color, but that’s about it as far as the brand goes.

Daunting online shipping process

Owning a color is not the same thing as building a brand


*I work for the government, but all opinions here are my own.


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