In the 1990s when customer satisfaction was the new business imperative, a well-known UK IT company had a ‘Customer Satisfaction’ day every Wednesday. All good, but what happened to customers on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays? Can’t imagine Veber would last very long if we only offered customer satisfaction one day a week.
Customer service is now thrust upon us every day. Just think about what happens when you call your bank: first the telephone system which requires a master’s degree in listening and maths to make progress; then, if you’re lucky, after a long wait, you are passed on to an agent who cannot fix your problem. Or, how about the annual task of renewing your car insurance? The task is rigged so that you do nothing and get charged 20% more than competitive quotes would offer but when you do go on line it is tough to do anything other than renew an uncompetitive quote. So, unenthusiastically, you decide to talk to an agent. After you have navigated your way through the phone system, successfully selected which type of insurance you want to discuss and typed in your 14 digit policy number…..you join a queue of “valued” customers all listening to dubious middle-of-the-road pop music.
This level of response should not be a surprise. Big companies run on KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which are not directly related to your satisfaction. The KPIs may include how fast the phone got answered; whether the agent understood the problem; how many calls the agent took in a day; how polite and professional the agent was; or, how long the agent spent on the telephone. Interestingly, none of these KPIs relate to resolving the issue – just what the response was like.
Not much successful customer ‘servicing’ going on so far.
Then you get the email survey which requests an urgent response to this vitally important survey. You are so dissatisfied with the company’s service that you take the 15 minutes to complete the survey but receive NO feedback from the company on your survey response and now you also think that the customer survey was a waste of time too.
The UK has an Institute of Customer Service but this is the best we can do? Not if Veber has anything to do with it. In the UK we seem to be totally committed to customer response with a minimum of personal contact which leaves you emotionally short changed. What we really need is fast customer satisfaction which supplies a suitable answer or makes a commitment to resolve the problem within a reasonable amount of time. How tough would it be for your insurance company to have a dedicated call number (obviously a high call rate number) for their car insurance team with a UK based call centre at the end of the line?
Some companies do it. And they do it well.
Firstly, we at Veber very much agree with the tenet that the terminology should be customer satisfaction: we do not want servicing, we want to be satisfied. We want our question answered or to know that someone is fixing the issue in a reasonable timescale.
Service related businesses, especially ones in high technology like Veber, have the resources available to us to provide good customer satisfaction.
As an example: you encounter an issue so go on line to the service provider’s web site and access their knowledge base. You can’t find your issue in the FAQs but as you consider your next move an avatar called Lucy is now asking if she can be of assistance. You type in your query then wait……Lucy needs to know your account number and your great-grandmother’s shoe size….you finally get an answer but don’t understand which part of the set up programme to use and where to find it….. 3 or 4 questions and answers later you’re there. The issue has been sorted and you are satisfied to an extent but still feel dehumanised and it’s taken a while.
What about when your issue is important and urgent?
Customer satisfaction is a topic close to our hearts and what we have found works for our customers is very simple: a dedicated call line with a human responder who has the ability and responsibility to resolve your issues.
Behind that is a promise to manage your business critical IT systems in a 99.999% up time data centre with 24/7/365 physical security and a clear escalation path when the inevitable critical issue arrives. We’ll also call you to inform you that your computer system is down before you even notice and we have the courage to offer compensation if we miss our Service Level Agreement.
We’re pretty good at it, the old customer satisfaction thing. You can always take a look at the website to hear it from our customers and we’ve been listening to them about how we can make it better. Hence our upcoming ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001 certification, which will lead to improved internal and external processes. They’ll also be a good old Customer Satisfaction Survey winging its way to our customers as part of that, one with a difference.
ISO 9001 specifies the need for a customer survey but it can be in a very basic form – Veber has taken it to the next level with added customer information about how important our responses are for you. We realise there’s no point in us celebrating about being rated 10 out of 10 in an area which our customers rate 3 out of 10 for importance.
It is not difficult; it just takes commitment and care – Veber care.
The goal is to move from customer service to customer satisfaction to customer delight…. Veber are on the journey.