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Call Centers 2.0 is focused on business software solutions serving call centers and contact centers, including Help Desk applications, Customer Service Systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and Social CRM systems. This website includes market research, expert insight, peer advice and independent business software reviews and comparisons.

 

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Technology and Service Combine to Deliver The Next Business Growth Engine

Customer Service Delivers the Highest Impact Customer Retention Strategy Available

Upon opening the Verizon Wireless bill that arrived last week, my blood pressure soared and my customer service dialing finger began angrily punching the buttons on my phone. Another monthly bill. Another errant charge for 1MB of data that I never sent or authorized. I can't even imagine all the money that Verizon and other cell phone providers make from customers who don't call to cancel these "ghost" charges, but I'm certainly not one of them.

A few transfers and a short time on hold later, it was Mike, the Verizon customer service representative, who told me that he was there to help me resolve the matter.

I explained the billing overage and used my gentle voice to demand that the charge be removed, then Mike launched into a call script about how he could help me block such charges by turning off Internet access for the phone. Perfect, I told him, as I don't use my phone for Internet access. (FYI, I'm not a Luddite, I am simply online all day so I just don't need such access every minute of my life.)

I told Mike that blocking feature would be great, but it still doesn't remove the errant fee. Sorry, nothing he could do, Mike advised. I of course then went into annoyed consumer mode and asked for his supervisor - we all know how this stuff works.

Mike put me on hold for some time, then returned and said he could remove the charge as a one-time favor if I allowed him to arrange the blocks on these services on my phone. I agreed, and pointed out that those kinds of blocks should have been set up by default on the phone in the first place so that consumers could opt in for them if they wanted the services. Mike said some customers want them and some don't. We seemed to be at a stalemate on that issue.

No matter, by the end of our conversation, Mike had listened to my problems, credited my account and placed the mobile Web blocks on my phone so that I wouldn't discover such surprise charges again.

A fair result, all for a few minutes of my time. So what can your business learn from this exchange?

A lot. Good customer service solves the customer's concerns and keeps them happy long-term - and most importantly this is something that's being implemented more and more as a "growth engine" for businesses, according to a recent story in The Wall Street Journal. "Executives are paying more attention to customer service in an effort to increase sales and gain market share in the economic recovery," the story explained. What boggles the mind is that it took an economic downturn for executive leaders to figure this out in the first place.

The story describes how companies including Walgreen's, Comcast and American Express have been expanding their customer service operations as a means of improving their relationships with existing customers and acquiring in new ones.

Some of it is in the small things, the article said, such as Comcast training their customer service agents to ask callers how their day is going as they are bringing up their account records. Wow, basic courtesy comes to customer service and all it took was an economic meltdown, lost revenue and a basic realization that customers are to be served. Genius.

All of these factors are critical for any business. You want to keep your customers happy and you want to keep them coming back. You want to refer new customers and keep them happy, too, and nothing can corral them better than fabulous word-of-mouth reputation for great customer service. Where can they get that? From your existing and very satisfied customers who you are working hard to keep happy and feeling loved.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Yes, CRM software is a contributing tool. So is ERP software, your IT infrastructure, your data centers, your truck fleet, your Web site, your stores and your neon signs along the highways. But none of those things, alone or combined, can deliver the impact of a well-trained, customer-friendly, resolution-oriented, quality-focused front line of customer service representative who leverage those information systems and tools to bring your customers back again and again.

And that's how you truly apply customer service as a business growth engine. Don't believe it? Just ask Walgreen's, Comcast and American Express how their business is picking up, downturn be damned.

 

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