In the early 2000’s I wrote a weekly Newsletter and in researching for a subject for this blog I came across an article on customer service that I wrote in August of 2002. Amazingly nothing much has changed except the part that I added on order retention. I thought it was interesting enough to re-publish with the addition.

Customer Service used to be much simpler. This was primarily because most of the business was conducted as Direct Response and was considered a onetime sale. There was not very much emphasis to turn the sale into a customer.

That has changed dramatically over the years and now the emphasis is on the customer. It requires a different attitude and training for customer service department personnel. Now the battle cry is “take care of my customer”.  In addition to taking care of the customers immediate question, like “where is my order”, there is always an attempt to provide additional services such as signing a customer up for continuity or up-selling them to other products. With the ever-increasing cost of media and finding new customers we find that we spend a lot more time in order retention. When the customer wants to return a product we no longer just create a return authorization. We spent time finding out why they want to return a particular product. Once we have a receptive customer we attempt to keep the order by offering discounts, coupons, free products or whatever it takes based on what our client has to offer.  Our clients have already spent the money to get the customer; it’s our job to keep them.

With the improvements in telephone systems and call center software we can identity the customer before we pick up the phone. With caller ID, which cannot be blocked if the customer calls a toll free number, the screen immediately displays the customer’s last order (if there is one), eliminating the typical questions to locate the customer in the computer system. This means we can focus on the customer needs instead on finding him in a vast database.

With advanced customer service software it’s much easier to prompts the customer service representative to quickly provide order status information, review the customers history and offer additional services. Answering the call timely is important so that you don’t add to the customer’s frustration; it’s easier to talk to them if they didn’t wait a long time.

Training customer service agents is a continuing effort to keep up with new clients, new campaigns, new services and new or changing promotions for existing clients.