Customer Service is being emphasized by a growing legion of businesses and organizations. Making certain that the interaction between organizations and their stakeholders has become keenly focused on providing the best experience possible. Customer service training programs abound, as do employer incentives rewarding positive results.
Customers Often Disappointed by Service
Certain industries are perceived as being especially challenged when it comes to service. The travel, utility, insurance and telecommunications industries, amongst others, are often cited as being unresponsive to customer concerns. Today many organizations have customer service representatives available to address customer issues. However, it has become nearly impossible to reach management who can address policy issues. Good luck finding phone numbers and email addresses for management in most organizations.
Several years ago a musician, whose guitar was damaged by baggage handlers, recorded three music videos complaining about the company that broke his guitar refusing to take responsibility for the damage they caused. The musician had been in contact with the company for nine months and they refused to take ownership of the problem. YouTube viewership of the first video shot into the millions in just a matter of days. Bad service has become so rampant that many people lived vicariously through the musician’s ability to stand up to the company’s unwillingness to accept responsibility.
Many organizations have implemented programs focusing on improving customer service. Unfortunately, training corporate staff on the importance of customer service has too often resulted in programs more concerned with their employees than the customers they serve. Programs that seem well intentioned at the corporate level can fall short when improperly implemented in the field.
The Misuse of Customer Surveys
The customer survey is one popular tool that can be misused. Surveys are often presented with the bill at restaurants. It has become the norm to also receive surveys after speaking with a tech support representative, having your car serviced, staying in a hotel, making a major purchase or even after a visit to the dentist. Receipts from grocery stores, home improvement stores and pharmacies invite patrons to complete an online survey. When customer surveys were first introduced they seemed innovative. But when one is asked to complete a survey every time one eats at a restaurant, speaks with tech support, visits a grocery store, pharmacy or other retail establishment customers may feel that the survey is nothing more than window dressing.
Not long ago I had my car repaired. Soon after the work was completed I received a call from the dealership asking about my satisfaction with the repairs. A few days later I received an email from the dealer asking me to complete an online survey followed a week or two later by another email and survey from the car manufacturer. What at first seemed like concern began to feel like harassment.
On a recent business trip the hotel clerk at the check-in counter accosted several colleagues and me. After completing our registrations and handing us our room key cards the clerk informed us that after our stay at the hotel we would receive surveys. He asked us to complete the surveys and added that the hotel staff would get in trouble if they received anything less than a 10 out of 10 on every question. One member of our party commented the next day that they had heard similar comments at breakfast. Apparently it was our responsibility as hotel guests to make sure that the hotel received perfect scores. The sentiment behind the survey was admirable. However, the implementation of the hotel chain’s focus on customer service became more about the welfare of the hotel’s employees than the service provided to guests.
Signage is Vital Component of Customer Service
What impact does signage have on service? When you think about it, signage is a vital component of customer service. When visitors, customers, patients, students, suppliers and even staff are in a facility (or a section of a facility) for the first time and they have to get from Point A to Point B they are often disoriented, short on time and on-edge. When the facility’s signage is attractive, easy to read and placed in the right locations it reduces the stress felt by those navigating to their destinations. Including a wayfinding plan produced by signage professionals as part of your signage program is every bit as important as your choice of signage.
Concentrating on the sign design and content is essential but it is not enough. By focusing on the navigational needs of those visiting your facility people will be able to expend their energy on what it is they are wanting to accomplish while in your facility and not on worrying how they are going to get to where it is they need to go. Furthermore, folks will be able to find their way without having to interrupt your employees in the building for directions. Customer service takes many forms. Genuine customer service is always appreciated.
To learn more about the benefits of wayfinding download our Wayfinding Whitepaper.