David Simpson 31st May 2018 4 Min Read
In the context of airlines with surly cabin crew, train companies that refuse compensation claims. Utility giants that bump you onto rip-off tariffs. Retailers with robotic staff. Customer service can often seem like a forgotten priority. It’s a strange state of affairs for a business skill that has such an impact on the bottom line. The Institute of Customer Service is one of the many researchers that finds a tangible link between customer service and financial return. It publishes an annual UK Customer Satisfaction Index and it makes interesting reading. Whether you put your faith in word of mouth, paid advertising or relationship marketing, when it comes to basic brand strategy there is nothing as valuable and reliable as treating your customer well. I see it as proficiency in certain crucial elements: professionalism, staff competence, ease of doing business, efficiency, knowledge, timeliness and effortless complaint-handling. Mastering that art is critical to staying competitive in a market bursting with choices for the consumer. Along with good product and good communication, good service is the way to get people to love your brand. It is the lifeblood of your business.I’d like to shine a light on my role models – the ones that do it right:
I like quality, design and great service. Arai makes premium motorcycle helmets that are handmade under the strictest quality control. They are pricey but they are worth every penny. The brand offers so many fit options that it’s almost impossible not to accomplish a perfect custom fit. Once achieved, consumers can expect some top of the range aftercare too: in-store, on the phone, online. This is a brand that engages with its customer at every level. There will be a van at major race meetings too – with staff happy to take a look at your helmet and resolve any issues. Pure gold.
I had a beautiful pair of Oakley sunglasses, which I was careless with and broke. I phoned Oakley to see if I could get them repaired. It turned out that the model had been discontinued but they replaced my pair for free. Oakley really stands by its products. The experience put me in a great frame of mind.
Help the washing machine has broken down! Nothing obviously wrong: no flashing red reset light, no water on the floor, no burnt motor smell. I appeal to YouTube but am still confused. I admit failure and call the manufacturer AEG, expecting costly repair fees as it is no longer under warranty. The service engineer comes and tells me what’s wrong. To my surprise, the brand’s policy is not to charge for the first visit. I love businesses that don’t regard repair as a revenue stream. Simplicity is a wonderful thing.
Every day there is a worthy brick and mortar shop closing somewhere, falling victim to the undeniable convenience of online shopping. Enter Amazon the behemoth of e-commerce, peddling everything from books to beard trimmers. The very size of this multi-billion-pound beast has you champing at the bit for the underdog, hoping and wanting it to fail on that crucial element of service. But it more than makes the measure: mind-reading technology to suggest what you might like to buy; fuss-free returns; replacements for lost packages sent with no quibbles. It even has an app showing you exactly where your delivery driver is.
Where do you find a friendly sales assistant to decode jargon? There is nothing worse than walking into a store and knowing more about the product than the people on the shop floor. Where do you find a friendly sales assistant to decode the jargon, put things in context, give an informed opinion? John Lewis prides itself on its knowledgeable staff. This is a brand that invests in its staff with rigorous training and peerless pastoral care. This icon of customer service has built a deeply trusting relationship with the British public over the decades and it continues to go the distance. These service champions are much more than the sum of their parts – be they staff-to-customer ratios, speed of delivery, the human touch; or the fact that they never rebuff your complaints and the staff are competent and consistent in every action they take. They bring together a great tradition and pair it with innovation – it really hits the mark.
A hands-on design engineer, David is responsible for driving the latest design, engineering and software developments. His experience ranges from hi-fi product design to the programme management of complex financial service software. When he’s not talking about firmware updates, tooling or road maps you’ll see him running in Hampstead Heath or ferrying his kids to school on his electric bicycle.