Steve Murphy: Suits you, Sir?

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Has industry forgotten how to smile? Steve Murphy, managing director of Europa, questions the basics of customer service…

In the 21st century, we find ourselves with a plethora of game changing technologies at our fingertips. It’s an age where a message can reach the other side of the world by email, quicker than you are able to make a cup of coffee. Communication has never been faster and accessibility to information, apparently, never easier. Customer expectations have also never been greater. Thankfully, the results of all this technology are unsurpassed levels of customer service, right? Sadly, not.

Like the rest of us, I find myself let down by extremely poor service on almost a daily basis. Why is it deemed acceptable to contact almost any major organisation via email and receive a reply that you will be answered, if you are lucky, within five days? We have smart phones, the Internet, email and Skype as well as old favourites like post, telephone and facsimile. And yet we still struggle to get answers to what may be relatively simple questions. Five days hardly seems like a satisfactory response period. If your organisation has a volume of email enquiries alone that results in five days of backed up communications, then you are large enough to employ – I know it’s a dirty word but, yes, employ – more staff to deal with those deserving customers. And it always astounds me that some of the worst culprits to respond to you are mobile phone companies, when communication is their business. What hope for the rest of us?
It’s all too easy in the current economic climate to overpromise in order to win or retain business, but the customer will always discover the truth. Those who get it right are those who simply embrace the technology and respond quickly, with a pertinent reply. If you can’t give the customer the answer they need immediately, be honest and tell them.

From my own experience in business, you will be absolutely amazed at how doing it right makes your business the one that customers want to work with. Despite all the technological advances in that time, one important fact remains the same – you must give your customers the service level you would expect, not what suits you.