I was mad. At 6:00 AM my emails were working fine, but by 7:00 AM I was unable to receive a single email. Attempts to log into my server were blocked, and I was left out in the cold. This wasn’t my first time having issues with this provider. Struggles with my email server have been occurring for the better part of the past twelve months.
Trying to get someone from customer service was a game of cat and mouse. My frustration became unbearable between dealing with their disconnected phone support line and not receiving straight answers from multiple techs via the live chat.
Eventually, a gentleman (we’ll call him “Steve”) answered, and I explained what was going on. He empathized with my situation and said he would stay on the phone to walk through the process and make sure I stayed connected. Not only was Steve kind enough to explain what was causing the problem, but he was patient, knowledgeable, and friendly.
A lot of my time on the phone with Steve consisted of waiting for the processes to complete, so we had plenty of time to chat. Steve shared that pre-pandemic, their tech team consisted of ten people. When they returned to the office a year later, only three remained. He explained its impact on service and the difficult conversations he has had with customers. He understands the problems and recognizes their need to do better. For the first time, I understood the real reason why I’ve experienced the runaround – a shortage of labor.
This story is an example of what many companies are facing right now. Unfortunately, many companies are now sacrificing service because demand is high. I’ve heard stories of prestigious companies like Disney leaving their customers waiting as services were cut during the pandemic. Labor shortages and increased customer demand has made for some pretty challenging situations. How you handle them matters.
True, much of this results from people walking away from entry-level jobs. Almost everyone I speak with has difficulty hiring, and maintaining service can sometimes be a lesson in creativity. Still, there are steps you can take to leverage service as your strength, even in tough times.
7 Tips to Leverage Service as Your Strength
- Create a culture that people are excited to be part of. When people want to work for you, they will do more for your clients. Your employees are your first customer.
- Be proactive! I find that a high percentage of issues could be avoided if companies took steps to prevent the problem in the first place. It starts with communication to staff, then to customers.
- Automate where you can. Non-customer-facing tasks are great ways to simplify.
- Stay connected where it matters. I hate nothing more than to have to deal with automated messaging via phone or AI. Artificial Intelligence isn’t that intelligent. Either that or I am the unfortunate one to have a question the damn computer doesn’t have an answer for. Have live people to answer questions.
- Talk is better than text. When I pick up the phone, I expect to speak to a person. Being stuck in auto-attendant hell is painful.
- Reach out to customers, and I don’t mean surveys. Again, pick up the phone!
- Map your processes. Simplification becomes complicated over time as different procedures are added to systems. After a while this hodgepodge of fixes bogs down the systems. Visualize what actually happens and look for breakdowns and redundancies.
We are all facing challenges right now. Stats show it’s not going to improve anytime soon. Staffing will remain a challenge for the next decade or longer. Implementing any or all of the steps I described above can help you win business through great experiences. Remember, your competition is doing as little as possible.