Customer Service is a PACT

Delight your customers by keeping your side of the PACT and your customers will keep theirs.

making a pact with a handshake

What is PACT?

If you have a good Process in place, you meet customer expectations.

If your staff has a positive Attitude you pleasantly surprise the customer.

With effective Communication, you keep customers well informed.

If you perform on Time, you satisfy your customers.

Let’s look at each area in detail:

Process

Process or procedure is what keeps the ball rolling from start to finish. If the chain of activities is well designed and run smoothly, focused on customer requirements you meet his expectations.

Scenario #1

Imagine you are at the hypermarket refund section and the customer service staff is extremely helpful and understanding. She is also efficient in speaking to the electronics section and sorting the problem in a few minutes. She demonstrates excellent on time performance in preparing the refund papers while coordinating with electronics. Things seem to be going really fast until she gives Mr. King the papers and asks him to collect the refund from accounts. Well accounts takes a good 45 minutes to refund the money. Their refund process involves a confirmation from the electronics section. They then have to reverse the sale, get approval from operations manager and chief accountant and finally refund the money.

There is obviously a process snag in the accounts department leading to an imbalance between frontline and them. Mr. King is satisfied in the manner the refund was handled but not in the process of actual refund leaving him with a sour feeling.

Attitude

For a process to be in place and work well you require an attitude – a positive attitude. It is a positive attitude that nudges you to understand the process and work towards meeting customer requirements. Process by itself cannot do it. It requires the human element. The human element, that thinks positively and works positively to keep the process in place. The human element that compliments the process in satisfying customers.

A positive attitude that pleasantly surprises customers. Something seldom found but yearned by all customers. A positive attitude that puts any business ahead of competition.

Scenario #2

In the same hypermarket scenario imagine accounts is very efficient but refunds the money with “we normally do not make refunds. You are very fortunate’. They give the impression of doing a favor by refunding the money. Mr. King though satisfied with the outcome, departs with a lingering bad taste due to the manner the refund is made. They make it look like an obligation than a right and no customer wants an obligation.

The refund could have been made adding some empathy. ‘Mr. King, I am so glad they made your refund. May I request you to sign here”.

Communication

Many a business has breakdowns in its process or attitude due to gaps in communication. This is even more evident when frontline handles customers. Effective communication, towards both internal as well as external customers can overcome many a pitfalls in business. Proper communication helps develop understanding and, understanding only makes one more knowledgeable. This paves the way for accommodation in processes or any other shortfalls.

Scenario #3

Let’s suppose the service agent in the hypermarket goes back office, to inform the manager of the electronics section. She comes back but does not have a reply for Mr. King. Though she goes frequently to back office she does not give an explanation nor gives an update on the status of his refund. After a good 30 minute wait, Mr. King is told to check in two days as the product needs to be sent to the service center. King asks in exasperation “You made me wait all this while just to tell me this?” The service agent with the least remorse replies “Sir, I did not get a reply from the manager. Hence, I could not tell you anything.” Mr. King absolutely furious, walks out with “You could have at least kept me abreast of what is happening instead of wasting my time.”

Well, so much for effective communication and service recovery.

All that the agent needed to do was tell him, “Mr. King, the manager is busy and might take 15-30 minutes. Would you like to wait or if you have something else to do came back later.” Communicating the status explains a process, shows empathy for King’s time and lets him decide on what to do.

Time

Time is prime. Given today’s fast pace, time plays a very important role in customer satisfaction. A timely act is more appreciated than a delayed performance with excuses.

On time performance holds the key for any process to be efficient. It plays a vital role in not leaving a customer waiting. It also speaks volumes on efficiency and attitude. Effective communication is a direct result of on time performance. It helps bridge many a gaps. Time is of essence where customer is concerned. On time performance can give you that edge over slipshod competition.

Scenario #4

The service agent tells King that she would get back in 2 days after sending the product to the service center but there is no reply for 5 days. King calls just to be informed that it would take a couple of days more! King thinks helplessly ‘2 days has now turned a week’.

Service could have been rendered professionally keeping their side of the PACT if the service agent had called in 2 days (Time), updating the customer on the status (Communication), empathizing with the customer (Attitude) and explaining the reasons for the delay (Process). The customer may have understood, accommodated and given them another opportunity.

Or in the various scenarios above:

Had the Process in accounts been in place, he would have been satisfied.
Had their Attitude been less indifferent, he would have accommodated.
Had their Communication been proactive, he would have understood.
And had their performance been on Time, he may have continued his business…

Though there are numerous other facets while serving or satisfying a customer, they all stem from a PACT. For, all service and satisfaction revolves around your PACT with the customer.

Should you ever experience poor service, give it a thought, and you’ll realize at least one of these four key elements is missing.

Hence keep your side of the PACT and customers will keep theirs..

..in building your business.

About the Author

Gangadhar Krishna is a freelance writer and analyst on customer service and satisfaction. He has varied and global customer service experience in a multitude of industries such as travel, airlines, retail banking, courier services and credit management. His experience spreads over countries as India, Australia and United Arab Emirates. His mission ahead is to serve committed clients worldwide and take them to a realm of service that leaves competition far behind.

CSS NYC 2019



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