Customer Service - Getting Better or Going Down Hill?

Now that we have CRM and all these great tools, customer service isn’t really a problem anymore, right? Not so fast. The New York Times recently published an article coaching readers on How to Get Better Customer Service. The occasion of the article was the release of the 2015 Customer Rage Study. That’s right, rage.  It turns out that in spite of all of our cool tools, analytics about what customers are looking for and investments in customer service, people are as annoyed as ever.

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In fact, they’re even more annoyed than ever before.  The Rage Study was the seventh in a series that began in 1976.  Back then, 32% of respondents reported that they had had a problem with a product or service in the past year. In the newly released study, that number has climbed to 54%.  And 66% of them said they experienced “customer rage”. Yikes!

And those are external customers – the ones who can afford to rage without risking their jobs. Imagine how internal customers probably feel.

 “Your call is important to us…”

Just not important enough for us to actually answer the phone. Being told that you’re important while simultaneously being ignored erodes trust and results in customers (who were already struggling with a problem) getting really angry.  One of the greatest benefits of a help desk like JIRA Service Desk is that you can triage the easy problems to deal with them quickly, freeing up staff to respond (empathetically) to the more complex problems. There will always be calls. Some issues don’t fit neatly in a box, and customers often have a psychological need to be heard. Tools like a self-help knowledge bases, and queues that direct customer issues to the person best able to resolve them, streamline problem solving and allow staff the time and space to be good listeners when dealing with frustrated customers.

Even when you’re not delivering customer service by phone, beware of giving the “you’re call is important- please continue to hold” message. (The Times article reported that nearly 50% of respondents found this statement highly annoying and an additional 17% thought it should be banned altogether.) The service desk equivalent is when a customer receives an immediate response to their help desk ticket saying essentially, “Yes, you do have a problem” and then doesn’t hear anything more for weeks.  The customer already knows they have a problem. The immediate response should do more than tell them their ticket has been received. It should be useful, letting them know the anticipated time until resolution or directing them to a knowledge base where they can help themselves.  

Request management tools are great for customer service in that they allow you to define your standards of service and track your performance.  Just take care to ensure that when you set up your metrics and SLAs that you’re focusing on measures that actually matter to the customer not just focusing on what’s always been done or what’s easy to capture.

Whether your team serves internal or external customers, your organization benefits from keeping them happy and avoiding rage.  Using a well-designed request management system like JIRA Service Desk lets you respond to problems quickly.  Enhancing JIRA Service Desk with purpose-built forms created in ProForma means you can collect the right data in the first place, allowing efficient resolution of the problem without having to go back and forth for more information.