Have we forgotten the art of customer service?


Last week, I attended a monthly meeting of my trade body – the Professional Speaking Association – and enjoyed a solid and reliable talk on customer service and its importance in modern business. The chap’s talk was thought-provoking, with dozens of examples and references pre-pandemic.

On my way home on the train, I thought about customer service standards since the Pandemic. I now wonder whether we have collectively “taken our eye off the ball” with customer service as so many distractions begin to dominate the business

  • Hospitality is empty of staff; blame what you like – Brexit, the Pandemic or the minimum wage – the pure fact is they lack staff and many are closing.
  • Hospitals are struggling with staff retention and illness, amongst many other challenges.
  • Automation is everywhere – millions are invested in the next shiny gadget to replace a human.
  • AI is the new electricity. It embeds itself into every aspect of business life with plenty of money behind the push. It’s almost impossible to call businesses, as they lack staff to take them. Instead, they triage you to a chat box operated by Milo, Alfi, or Mimi – cute names for AI language models.
  • Even my doctor’s surgery implores me to use their app to fix an appointment using a “decision tree” algorithm to triage me. Then, the next phone call appointment is three weeks away.
  • Possibly, the younger amongst us are not used to dealing with the phone to talk, preferring WhatsApp or IM. But is that their preference or the customers? Social skills may have waned in young employees, and companies are reluctant to train them on these as they collectively cut costs with a recession on the horizon.

I’m not saying any of these factors are wrong or inherently destructive – they are all prevalent and appear to be a perfect storm to take our attention away from customer service.

So, think about your business. Have you forgotten good old customer service?

So, think about your business. Have you forgotten good old customer service? Have you fallen into the trap of indifference towards your customers? As the speaker from last week stated, most of us don’t start the working day wanting to be rude or put customers off buying. We just get distracted, trying to increase efficiency and automation and may inadvertently begin to appear indifferent to customers.
I know I’ve been guilty. On the train last night, I thought about this. Have I been active in keeping existing customers engaged? Do I respond to customer contact promptly? Do I answer my phone or rely totally on voice mail? Do I use my customer’s preferred communication method or mine? Am I outsourcing far too much with little responsibility for the outcomes for our customers? The list goes on.
I know what I should be doing, and so do you – customer service skills are not alien to us. We know what the ingredients are. And if you’re in the financial services sector, you’ll be acutely aware of Consumer Duty. It is all about good customer outcomes and the need to communicate well, help them understand, and provide excellent customer care alongside your efficient yet customer-oriented processes.
Sounds good in theory. How about you? Have you drifted into indifference?


About Author

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Paul Archer is an Online Sales Trainer, Speaker and Conference Host. He’d be happy to assist you in moving your workshops online during this challenging period. Email him on paul@paularcher.com or LinkIn with him at www.paularcher.uk The world of sales development has changed, many have missed this and boldly go on to run courses in the old-fashioned way. You want to develop your people – professional advisers, salespeople, coaches - and know there is a better way. He can help you. Think about music. I mean the music industry. In 2000 music became free, illegally at first with Napster, downloads became cheap as chips and streaming now cost $10 a month. In the same way, traditional self-development is now free. Everything is available online. Music artists and bands now make their money performing live. The live experience is what fans will pay money for. Recorded music is merely to create demand for the live experience. He brings his 35+ years of sales expertise and experience to you in two ways: Online, on-demand, just in time. He doesn’t run “just in case” training courses, they’re a thing of the past. Development should be “just in time”. Curated video, live videocasts and webinars, podcasts — books, articles and blog posts delivered via his Learning Platforms, YouTube or your in-house systems. Live. He can bring his expertise to your teams in live sessions, but these are rare now and need to be exceptional events. Conferences, seminars and events, he can educate, entertain them with my unique speaking style that has been enjoyed by thousands of sale people and advisers across the globe. Forty-five minutes, 2 hours, maybe a day – you choose. You figured there was a better way to develop your sales teams, you are right, and now you may want to make contact with him so you can talk further. You can Linkin with him at www.paularcher.uk, and he’ll start a conversation or head to his YouTube Channel for more at www.paularcher.tv email him at paul@paularcher.com or phone him on +44 7702 341769, and where ever you are in the world he’d love to hear from you. Paul is a prolific writer and blogger – maintaining three blogs, with www.paularcher.com attracting thousands of hits from all over the world. He has published eight books. His latest tome "Pocketbook of Presentation Skills” was released in January 2020 and is available from Amazon. The third edition of his book “Train the Trainer of the 21st Century” is also available from Amazon.

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