Customer service is unsexy topic.

E-commerce and e-banking are sexy topic to customers based on convenience and discounts. I wonder why and how most well-meaning companies that are so dynamic and friendly in marketing and selling, seem to be dumb and  look out of sorts, and inept, about customer service quality.

Today morning  I observed that my wife was talking to Flipkart.com customer agent that she received message that her order has been cancelled as she was not at home. She has made Cash on Delivery(CoD) order.  The customer agent talks that they could not reach her and she responds that she is teacher and cannot take calls when she is at school.  I am sure something is getting resolved. Based on my wife experience and  Pathetic Customer Experience , I have question whether companies decided to assume ” if customer does not pick call on mobile, we assume that he is not available”.

Today customers are made to feel pampered and are made to feel they never had it this good by marketing campaigns and TV ads. This leads to thinking in Indian customers that they are the nawabs and rajas on whom companies shower all kinds of goodies. Alas! that is until the sale happens. Ask the same customer for delivery, the story is different. Ask the same customers six months later the story is usually different. Indian customers are made to slowly accept to fact similar to corruption that  all post sales customer service is not good as pre sales service.

Most Indian companies declare high degree of customer focus as their priority. To what extent does this priority translate into delivery of customer quality? There are Indian companies that are customer obsessed and still fall short of their promise. For most others it still is simply a marketing slogan. ‘customer is king’ ‘customer is God’ are freely used but not meant.

What is high priority for organization?  Urgency to make sale to customer? What is important to customer?

  • Marketing and sales teams work independently from the customer service support team. Organization fail to structure to enable feedback loop between the teams and they realize that  the promise does not match with reality and the need to collaborate with each other and that is not there. Marketing teams are small and highly qualified persons while customer service team are large and average persons.
  •  The thought patterns of the employees of other departments do not match with the emotions displayed in marketing and selling department.  For example, organization promise excellent customer service but more obsessive to cut costs to serve customer, promise work –life balance, but expect employees to stretch.   Employees lose productivity when they are subject to contradictory orders.
  • Functional separation of CRM and customer support desk . From customer perspective, CRM handles all communication and service  related to customer. In reality, CRM enables managing the sales and marketing processes to manage customer at pre-sale stage.  The customer service/support desk( separate from CRM) is used by customer service to manage customer post-sale stage. Does split in technology and people impact customer service? In some companies, the support desk is outsourced completely.

Some people think that shaming on social media will change customer service. Please see truth on the ground. The focus becomes not to resolve the actual issue for specific person and goes to make sure that you do not go berserk on social media creating bad publicity. Does something really  concrete happens to customer service as whole? May we should consider social media as information transmission channels and not  customer channels. We need to change in communication approach to one that serves the purpose it is intended to serve.

Another is customer feedback. Do companies make effort to inform customers action taken based on their feedback?    I know that e-commerce companies show scores for customer and supplier.  Do companies have courage to disclose the cumulative scores they receive from the feedback? Cumulative score for e-commerce or virtual taxi companies?

Here is another article Some People Hate Self-Checkout that adds a different perspective to pre-sale stage.