The Church Of Customer Service

For whatever reason I have worked with a number of customers over the last week that had unique circumstances that made resolution of their issues both challenging and time consuming.  As an avid runner, those are the situations that stick in my head and I usually have to sort out while I’m sweating.

On one particular run it finally hit me.  95% of customer interactions are easy and routine. Those customers typically don’t need much more than one small favor or just an expert to help them find a link or feature they couldn’t find on their own.  It’s the other 5% that require hours of attention in order to be able to use the service.  If you don’t immediately know who the 5% are then you are either really ignorant, you rush those customers off the phone hoping you never get their call again or you are really, really good at customer service and can wow even those customers without breaking a sweat.

I am convinced that those 5% of customers separate the great customer service professionals from the others.  The fact that I am aware of the 5% means that I know those customers well and it’s sometimes hit or miss as to whether I want to take the time to wow them.

You may be curious as to why I called this post “The Church of Customer Service.”  To give you a little bit about my background, I come from a long line of pastors.  My dad, grandfather and great grandfather are/were all pastors.  I often refer to it as the family business.  One thing about church is that it is a hot bed for the 5%.  You don’t have to search very far before you find someone that has baggage or needs special attention.  Admit it or not, you have baggage and I have baggage.  We are all messed up.

In the same way, there is a laundry list of baggage that customers will bring to the table when they interact with customer service.  Some customers may have disabilities that make the interaction challenging, others may present a language barrier and finally others who don’t realize they have baggage spew their negative lack of self awareness all over the place.  Those are my favorite!

If we are really going to WOW customers and be a customer-centric organization, the challenge is clear.  We have to figure out how to consistently WOW the 5%.  I am currently pondering the best way to do this for our company.  To be continued…

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Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

3 comments

  • Great post, Jeremy! You are so right about customer service being challenging. Each person deals with their “baggage” differently and in order for some to really accept the service you’re giving, you just have to find a way into their hearts. Certain personalities are more “business” speak focused, some are more likely to relax after you tell them a good joke, some just want hand holding, others want a direct contact. In college, I took a speech class. One thing important component of this class was learning who your audience is and speaking TO that audience. Being able to gauge your customer’s personality will help you tailor your service directly to them, solve their issue and maybe even restore some hope that not everyone is out to get them!

    • Yes! Great words Jenny. We don’t need customer service professionals who are just going to regurgitate trained answers. We need customer service professionals who are communicators who truly read their audience and respond intelligently.

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