Customer service has been done badly because it has been defined badly. It is important to decide what service you want to provide. Too often companies definition of what kind of service do we want to deliver are too fuzzy “we want to deliver world class/best in class service to our customers” is all good. But if you do not follow that up with clear definitions and goals – how do you measure if you are delivering great service? And what is best in class?
That is the equivalent to say “I want to see all of London”, when have you seen all of London?
When you have seen St. Paul’s, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, the statue of Lord Nelson and a red double-decker bus ?Or do you want to see all the museums as well? Or Oxford Street and Covent Garden, Or Bond Street or every single greasy spoon, green grocer, doctors waiting room?
The goals needs to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely), when you have your goal defined you can start making a plan for how to reach them. What do you need to reach the goal? Genuine world class service does not come cheap – it will cost you money (but will also gain you money) and to a certain degree lack of control you need to give your frontline people some autonomy (this by the way should never ever be seen as a bad thing) – but if you are not prepared to give that – then world class service is not what you want to offer.
If you want to be available 9-5 (then make sure there are somebody to pick up phone/email/faxes 9-5) if you say 24/7 then make sure there are somebody 24/7 – unless you deal in some very critical products, customers are perfectly happy with a 9-5 approach as long as that means really 9-5. If you have chat functionality – make sure there are a knowledgeable person available for chat.
It is when you under deliver customers get disappointed. If you do what you say then nobody get really disappointed – granted some customers can hope for more, but they do not expect it.
When you have your goals defined and a way to reach them then you can try to extend yourself and the goals. But you have to start with a defined goal – otherwise it is just talk.