When a company offers its customer a solution through a complex product, providing customer service after selling the product becomes very important. A good customer service process will lead to customer satisfaction and will make business easier for both parties. Let us see how we can go about designing a good customer service process.
Who is a customer?
A customer is an organization or individual who makes a decision to buy your product, by not choosing another similar product offered by your competitors, by spending his most valuable resource – MONEY.
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Why is customer service required?
The moment the customer has decided to buy your product, he has already given you an edge over your competitors and at the same time has puts himself at risk. The supplier may not agree to this because he has seen the offered product work at several places but to the customer it is a risk because he has invested money and at the same time, given up his power to choose, by selecting your product – he no longer has any options available to him after he has chosen to buy your product. The whole idea of providing customer service is to reduce the risk the customer has put himself into and make him again feel powerful by convincing him through your services that he has made a great choice and he would have lost had he chosen any other offering from your competitors. Don’t you think that customer deserves great service?
Suppliers must understand that the customer who is a human being or a group of humans, is inherently apprehensive and tends to think negative like all of us. “Has all my money gone down the drain?” is the kind of questions that come to the customer’s mind. It is in the human nature to think negative and your customer is no different. Customer service is required to do away with these kind of apprehensions of the customer about the product that he has purchased by spending his most valuable resource – money.
It is imperative for the sales manager and the customer service manager to have a high level of empathy In order to provide excellent customer service, they should be able to put themselves in the customer’s shoes. Suppliers should understand that the moment the customer places the purchase Order, he becomes shaky and apprehensive and wants commitment or at least clear guidelines and action plan. When the product is new to the customer, the customer wants the supplier to be with them throughout the life-cycle of the product. You must remember that the customer has already obliged you by deciding to spend money to buy your product without testing it himself. He has already put himself in the receiving end. He may have seen your product perform at other places, but as long as he does not see the product successful in his own organization or has firsthand experience of the product being successful, he is still taking a chance, and will remain apprehensive. The product may be successful in many other places, but as long as he does not see it successful in his own place, he will remain unsatisfied. The money he has spent on your product, will take away his sleep and will continuously keep biting him till he sees the product successful. The customer wants continuous support
What generally leads to losing a customer?
It is our personal experience that we tend to go to the person who is ready to help us and makes us feel comfortable. Similarly once we start doing away with the customer’s apprehensions and negativity, the customer keeps coming back to us. It is also very important to understand that in case we fail to mitigate the risk the customer has on himself, he will look for other avenues to mitigate the risk he has. He will have no option but to go to your competitors. You will end up losing your customer.
Why sometimes it becomes so difficult to satisfy the customer?
Customer service starts when the sales process starts. Customer service becomes very difficult if the sales person does not understand the requirements of the customer and offers a solution that will, in future, not solve the customer’s problems. To precisely understand how the product we offer will exactly be able to solve the customer’s problem is very important. If there is a mismatch, customer satisfaction becomes impossible. It is thus, very important to involve the customer service manager, technical team, when a new customer is offered a product and when a service contract is being signed. It is very important to have feedback from the customer services manager, the technical team regarding our commitments to the customer.
No Customer can be completely satisfied:
The idea of providing customer service is to do away with this apprehension as far as possible so as to make the customer feel happy to a certain extent. I use the phrase “As far as possible” and “to a certain extent” because it is impossible to do away with the apprehensions of the customer. I would again remind that a customer is a human being or a group of human beings. One cannot make a human being happy or satisfied completely. It is impossible to do away with the apprehensions of the customer or in other words, completely satisfy a customer. So one must remember that the customer can be satisfied only to a certain extent. All efforts to completely satisfy a customer will go in vain and will lead to waste of money. A line needs to be very judicially drawn.
Designing Customer Service Processes:
The following questions should be answered while designing a customer service strategy because these are the questions that come from the customer. The questions may not come directly but it keeps coming in the customer’s mind. We need to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes in order to understand our customer better. Preparing to answer these will lead to design of a good customer service strategy.
The first question the customer has is whether the money he spend on the Product was well spend and whether he will have the return for his money?
Will we be able to enjoy the benefit of the product that we have purchased?
Will the product serve the purpose for which it was purchased?
Whether we will be able to use it the way it needs to be used?
The first thing the customer wants is to see that the product has started working in a given time period after the placement of PO. The customer remains in a state of unrest until he sees the product working.
The customer wants to see the product work flawlessly when used.
He wants to see that the product does not fail after two weeks and runs flawlessly for a long time
What happens if there is a fault in the product – The questions the customer may have are:
Will the solution be easy?
How long will the system remain down?
If the product has a problem, how long will it take to solve the problem?
Will we be able to solve it ourselves?
Do we have the required knowledge to solve the problem?
Will the supplier solve it?
If the supplier solves it, how long will they take to solve it?
Up to what extent the supplier will support us?
Up to what extent we are supposed to have the knowledge?
How long will be the supplier support us?
Will the supplier provide us with the required knowhow/training to solve the problem?
How effective will be the trouble shooting training that the supplier provide us?
Do we need to pay for repairs?
The customer wants to use the product with ease. The questions that may come in the customer’s mind are:
Is the product easy to use?
Will the supplier provide us with training to use the product
Whether we will be able to use the product the right way
Whether they are deriving benefits over and above the cost of the product.
The above questions are posed to us because we know our product best and the customer has limitations. The product is new to the customer. Had the customer known our product the way we know, these questions would not have come up. But this is not possible. To answer the questions CUSTOMER SERVICE comes into the picture. It is also a fact that no matter how much you support, it is not possible for the customer to do away with their shakiness and apprehensions. The customer is always asking for more. This is why we lay down guidelines in the form of a contract stating to what extent we will be supporting them. But at the same time, if we are not able to mitigate the risk the customer has put himself into, we will end up losing the customer.