Happy Thanksgiving!

On this Thanksgiving Day, ARMA, Inc. would like  to express our thanks to you. We appreciate your interest and your support and we extend our best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!

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We will return next week with commentary, views and reports regarding customer service.

 

 

 

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Customer service becomes more social

With the advent of social media — blogs, Twitter, Facebook — one customer’s experience can be broadcast quickly to many other potential customers. Recently, we wrote about a company who is using social media to their advantage: Zappos.

On Wednesday, USA Today published a story entitled “Social Media Like Twitter Change Customer Service.” The article quotes Pete Bradshaw, a Nielsen executive:

Social media is not a panacea,” says Blackshaw. “It is a catalyst for fresh thinking on how companies can improve customer service in the digital age.”

The bottom line is that even though customer service is a one-on-one interaction, a bad (or for that matter, a good) interaction can go out to many people, impacting the perception of the company.

For instance, a colleague of ours here recently tried to buy some furniture at an office supply store. The store was out of stock and did not offer to find the furniture at another store, or issue a raincheck. The problem was compounded by bad information and general lack of initiative among the employees. The colleague wrote about the situation on Twitter. The problem then becomes larger for the store.

What do you think? Is social media a good watchdog for customer service?

 

Empathy or calmness?

What type of customer service do you prefer? Calm or empathetic? Efficient or caring? The answer may depend on the situation and perhaps it is not an either or question.  Perhaps the best customer service is empathetic, yet efficient in taking care of our concern. After all, if all we get is empathy but not follow through then we are where we started. However, if customer service is calm, and efficient, but not understanding or caring of our situation, we feel misunderstood.

Anthony Tjan, blogger at the Harvard Business Publishing blogs has a fantastic post about what we can learn about customer service from smaller companies. He boils it down to empathy. Smaller companies care more about their customers, and can act in ways that are sensible to the situation rather than scripts and pre-ordained outcomes.  Larger companies teach their customer service representatives to be calm rather than empathetic. Repeat the same comments even if they don’t make sense to the situation at hand. Many of us get more flustered with this bland, uncaring response.

Again, perhaps companies that get the right measure of empathy and calmness, efficiency and understanding are the ones doing the best job. We often need a sympathetic ear, but we also need action.  What do you think?