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Thursday, March 14, 2013

How to Provide Award-Winning Customer Service

Recently, Liz Barnes, Remi’s Service Center Manager, was awarded the Bronze Stevie® Award in the Contact Center Manager of the Year category during the Sales & Customer Service gala in Las Vegas. Liz consistently goes above and beyond what’s expected; as a result of her professionalism when communicating with Remi customers, Liz was recognized for her achievements. Hearing her recount the details of the award banquet led me to think about customer service in general. In the fast-paced, technologically advanced society we live, work, and play in, the good old-fashioned customer service that our grandparents experienced is becoming as extinct as the dinosaurs.

Below is an interview with Liz, as I try to capture the essence of how to provide award-winning customer service.

When you joined Remi in 2009, you were hired as a temporary employee for a short term project. You were quickly offered a permanent position after management recognized your potential and the rest is history, as they say. Describe your work ethic that ultimately led to your promotion to Service Center Manager.

I’ve always believed that the foundation to a solid work ethic is a positive attitude. Every day, I strive to perform to excellence and encourage my team to do the same.

Since becoming Service Center Manager, what additional technology and/or innovations have you introduced to improve service center efficiencies and customer service?

The introduction of call management software has definitely provided the Service Center with the insight needed to provide the highest level of customer service. We have been able to effectively monitor trends and adhere to a service level where 96.5% of our calls are answered by a live representative within 10 seconds.

Once a service event has been escalated from a Service Center Representative to you for whatever reason, how do you diffuse the situation? What are you tips for handling an irate customer?

Genuinely assuring the customer that their problem is a priority is key, but it doesn’t stop there! You have to see the problem through and stay in constant communication with the customer until you confirm that the issue has been resolved to their satisfaction.

How do you and your team make customers feel important and appreciated, like they are the only thing that matters at that moment?

Each customer and their needs are unique, and the first step in making a customer feel important is truly listening to identify how you can best serve them. Even if a representative doesn’t have the answer or an immediate solution, taking ownership of their request and following through will show the customer that their needs are important.

What is the best advice you could give someone who is in customer service but feeling burnt out and not giving 110% during every customer interaction?

There is no doubt, regardless of the industry, that Customer Service has its challenges. One thing that has always helped me and my team is remembering that each customer interaction is an opportunity to turn a potential negative situation into a positive, for both the customer and representative. There is a great sense of accomplishment that can come from being able to resolve a problematic situation, which is very rewarding!

Providing award-winning customer service doesn’t take as much effort as some organizations might think. Having a live representative answer phone calls, who listens, and genuinely cares about helping the customer are easy steps to take to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction. In your experience, what company has provided the best customer service? Was it a huge retailer like Zappos or a mom-and-pop shop around the corner? Share your story with us and leave a comment.