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Article : Always Room For Improvement

In your opinion, do you believe the customer service you get today from other companies is better or worse than it was say 5 years ago? We asked contact center professionals for their views on this question, as they would know the state of customer service best.

- a survey by Joss Jalbert, ContactCenterWorld.com

Ian Hamerton
NCC Manager
National Health Service Blood & Transplant
United Kingdom

"Better. Whilst still a long way to go the message that Customers need to receive better treatment seems to have got through to most organisations I deal with. A recent example was IKEA's delivery service sending texts at pre-determined intervals in the process to keep me informed and involved with the delivery. Excellent job well done. I believe it is handled by DHL although branded IKEA."
About National Health Service Blood & Transplant

NHSBT is a Special Health Authority in the NHS with responsibility for optimising the supply of blood, organs, plasma and tissues and raising the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of blood and tra... (read more)
 
Marianne Wright
Sales
Telmart Institute of Marketing
United States

"yes, for the most part I think companies are hurting and are putting a real effort toward customer service"

 
Sarah-Jane Heber-Hall
Operations Director
Computertel Ltd.
United Kingdom

"I think it is dependent on the industry it relates to as to whether the expected and achieved standards of customer attention and service have indeed become noticably hightened, but on the whole the customer has most definately become a focus of commercial interest, along with the need to retain their existing customer-base and find upselling opportunities individually through customer relationship management techniques. This change in attention has indeed lead, in my opinion, to an escalation in generically better standards of customer service that I have received within the past few years."

 
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Darren Young
Business Development Director
Customer Service Network
United Kingdom

"I think it is generally better as more companies have realised the importance of great service and are using it to differentiate themselves. However, this is relative as I still don't believe customer service is that impressive and the companies that do deliver are still exceptions. There are just more of them than 5 years ago."
About Customer Service Network

CSN was founded in 1997 to bring together managers, directors and customer service personnel from across the UK who were striving to improve customer service. The aim was for members to learn from one... (read more)
 
Aditya Bhalla
Practice Head, Innovation Practice
QAI Global Institute
India

"Unfortunately the manner of providing customer service has remained unchanged as the same practices mistakenly dubbed as "best practices" migrate from one country to another and from one industry to another. End of the day the experienced managers being hired by other companies and industries bring to the table what they have been doing for the past 20 years.

The sensitivity to customer service as opposed to mere lip service also depends on what part of the evolutionary growth curve (S-curve) the industry is at. When it is the peak of growth the focus is more on getting sales in and less on the customer service as demand outstrips the supply. There is a much higher threshold towards poor service and customer complaints. Management and consultants alike sympathesize with the lack of trained resources in the market to provide service and no one bothers to question why such issues cannot be resolved elegantly.

Good example of this would be the Telecom industry in countries such as India that have posted growth even when rest of the world was hit by the economic downturn. Now with a plethora of competition, falling ARPUs and availability of number portability suddenly the industry is forced to reckon with the possibility of providing service to minimize customer churn. ARPU is being abaondoned as a measure of performance as it is claimed that each customer may own multiple SIM cards from different service providers. No one cares to answer the question why the companies cannot encourage the owner of multiple SIM cards to show a higher usage (and thereby higher ARPU) for their companies SIM cards."
About QAI Global Institute

QAI is a process consulting and training company helping IT and BPO organizations achieve operational excellence. QAI India has been consulting clients on framework-based models.
 
Jonathan Judd
Director of Strategic Alliances
8x8 Inc.
United States

"It is still a mixed bag but I think customer service has improved overall as it has been a key differentiation with a down economy. With many products and services price is no longer the area they can differentiate themselves from the competition, it is around the quality of the company's customer service now."
About 8x8 Inc.

8x8, Inc. (Nasdaq: EGHT) leverages its patented software technologies to deliver high quality voice solutions with integrated messaging and video to businesses of any size with employees in any locati... (read more)
 
Aminudin Zainodin
Assistant General Manager
Hong Leong Bank
Malaysia

"Better. From my experience dealing with complains, the turn around time has been faster. Back then we are ok with 7 working days, now the expectation of 7 or even 2 working days are no longer there. It's either 24hrs or immediate solve."
About Hong Leong Bank

Hong Leong Bank is a bank in Malaysia. Hong Leong Bank was founded by Lam Ji Chiew and began its operations in 1905 in Kuching, Sarawak under the name of Kwong Lee Mortgage & Remittance Company.
 
Nina Kokorska
Workforce Planning Analyst
Expedia
Bulgaria

"Definately customer service is better than it was 5 years ago, due to many new standart metrics in the industry,software developement, company process optimizations etc."
About Expedia

Expedia, Inc. is a U.S. company headquartered in Bellevue, Washington that operates several travel brands including Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Venere.com, Hotwire.com, Egencia (formerly Expedia Corporat... (read more)
 
Arnold Ward
Management Consultant
ACW
Canada

"Yes, service is worse for the most part. It is most unfortunate that as important as customer service is, companies become complacent and slowly degrade on the level of customer service they provide. Employees just don’t seem to care and one has to wonder whatever happened to "wowing" your customer. Being from Toronto, one does not have to look very far for a prime example, our transit operator, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). A lot of bad press just recently around the poor customer service they are providing, and instantly there is a fresh push to improve their image and the service they provide."

 
Jon Pickles
Director
Comtec Group
United Kingdom

"Probably worse because so many call centres have moved their services off-shore."

 
Jane Symonds
Customer Services Manager
Türk Ekonomi Bankası (TEB)
United Kingdom

"Better as Companies are more aware of the need to differentiate themselves from competition on more than price"
About Türk Ekonomi Bankası (TEB)

Türk Ekonomi Bankası (TEB), a financial institution in the Turkish banking sector, started its banking activities in 1927. With its ever-expanding branch network and wide range of products and ser... (read more)
 
Shankaran Nair
President
Servion
India

"Worse. The pressure on most service providers to deal with scale has robbed the interaction of the most basic of human qualities. The personal touch. This was inevitable given changing life styles and is an invisible price being paid for "progress". While all kinds of technologies and processes can be put in place to deal with the new realities – the fundamental fact is that in the changed environment that quality that was a part of service is lost forever."
About Servion

For more than 20 years, Servion has been trusted by customer-centric brands for architecting, implementing, and managing Contact Centers and Customer Experience (CX) solutions. Servion delivers comple... (read more)
 
Donald Gillis
Product Manager
DSS Corporation
United States

"In general, better. However, companies seem to rely on tiered escalation and automation insomuch that their methodology only serves to exasperate the situation. A human touch is always preferred."

 
Sandra Galer
Consulting Director
Merchants SA (South Africa)
South Africa

"In most industries slightly better as there is more awareness of what people want, however as consumers we are becoming more demanding."
About Merchants SA (South Africa)

Merchants, a Dimension Data Group company, is a provider of bespoke outsource contact centre solutions, operating in South Africa and has a 35 year track record of delivering customers contact centre... (read more)
 
Fred Zimny
Call Center - Operations Manager
VGZ
Netherlands

"I never think in terms of better or worse in relationship in comparing the present with the past. I believe that customer service is changing and acknowledges the fact that the internet 2.0 will impact business and customer relations. And that is the big change, relationships are - in a commodity world - less dominant."

 
Robert Wint
Senior Vice President Marketing, EMEA
Verint
United Kingdom

"I think in general it's got much better. The main reason for this is that most organisations now have much greater visibility or awareness when things aren't going well, and some are now even taking the most appropriate action to fix things that aren't going so well. This wasn't really the case five years ago."
About Verint

Verint Systems is a provider of analytic software-based solutions for the security and business intelligence markets. Verint solutions transform voice, video, and text into actionable intelligence - m... (read more)
 
Christine Bryant
Contact Centre Manager
Wunderman
United Kingdom

"Better - More companies have improved customer service and have more communication channels for customers to contact them therefore meeting customer’s needs. Awareness on the importance to provide excellent customer service and the benefits of doing this has increased although some specific sectors still have a long way to go. Those companies that provide a better service do this by ensuring that they have robust processes in place for staff selection in correctly identifying agents who have the right skills, passion and attitude to meet and exceed customer expectations. As agents are the most expensive asset companies committed to customer service train and develop staff to enhance skills and knowledge."
About Wunderman

Wunderman is a network of advertising, marketing and consulting companies with offices in 60 countries. Headquartered in New York City, Wunderman is part of Young & Rubicam Brands and a member of WPP... (read more)
 
Jack Burdick
Sales & Service Operations Manager
Ingersoll Rand
United States

"In general I think that customer serivce is poor which creates an opportunity for customer focused companies to truely stand out form the croud"

 
Jennifer Anderson
Director Client Support
Manpower
United States

"I get better service from centers in the United States than I do over seas. The India Service Desks seem to be the worst."
About Manpower

ManpowerGroup is an American multinational human resource consulting firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. Manpower provides recruitment and assessment, training and development, career man... (read more)
 
Kevin Raul
Manager Operations
Respondez
India

"The options available are more today, however the service aspect has decreased. Service teams that actually answer calls do not have as much experience with related products and services. IVR based systems allow for much more efficient handling of day to day enquires."

 
Steve Callahan
Practice Development Director
The Nolan Company
United States

"Worse due to the either overworking of existing employees, overutilization of call routing, or overdependence upon offshore - and less aware - resources."

 
Daniel Akre
Managing Director
UNI Partners
United States

"Worse - American work ethic continues to deteriorate as the majority of customer service personnel believe their low wage base requires less than excellent service levels and effort. Until Corporate America understands their life blood is in the front lines, consumers/ customers will be ill-served by low wage, neophytes incapable of serving the needs of a more savvy and informed public.

are required to follow "Policy" which lends to inflexibility to long time customers"

 
Steffen Wuth
Managing Director
Germany

"The service has become worse in my opinion. The time I have to wait until my call is connected has increased. The time until my question is answered / my problem is solved has increased, partly because agents do not know basics, e.g. I asked German pay-tv operator Sky to change my STB-card from satellite to cable. I had an older cable-STB and mailed all the details to Sky so they could send me the right card. After more than 3 months and several cards that could not be initiated, Sky told me that my STB was to old and I had to buy a new one. With the details I had given them, I would have expected the answer right at the first time."

 
Marco de Jager
Director
Netherlands

"Yes, customer service is improving in Europe. More and more companies realize that due to the choices they make regarding service and quality, they can retain customers or loose customers."

 
Jonathan Grant
Ceo
Vonage
United Kingdom

"It is difficult to say that customer service has improved over the past five years because most companies are still being held back by their legacy communications systems. Businesses have solutions in place that are acting as a straight jacket and restricting their ability to be flexible to customer needs. Unfortunately, until a company upgrades the technology available to contact centre operatives it will be impossible for them to improve the level of service offered to customers."
About Vonage

Vonage (NYSE: VG) is a provider of communications services connecting individuals through broadband devices worldwide. Our technology serves approximately 2.4 million subscribers. We provide communica... (read more)
 
Khilona Radia
Director
iGrowth International Business Consultants
South Africa

"Worse. Agents are not empowered to make decisions."

 
Axel Alcocer
Operations Manager
Unifica Teleservices
Mexico

"I believe is better. Customer Service is a differentiation now between companies where the one who doesn't provide a great CS could be kicked out of the business."

 
Roy Fuchs
Cfo
MFN, LLC
United States

"Worse. More companies focus on efficiency rather than effectiveness. All the blah, blah, blah about how important you are, Mr./Ms. Customer, as you get placed on hold for ten minutes. How about staffing up to meet the demand?"

 
Jared Mortlock
Advisor
Inland Revenue New Zealand
New Zealand

"Similar, although I the intent is better. That is that companies better understand the need to offer good customer service and try, but have not matured their processes or business rules to enable that to happen - so you end up no better off. Added to this is the explosion in ways you can contact companies and interact, and companies often do not understand how to offer goos customer service across these new touch points."

 

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Today's Tip of the Day - Motivating Agents With No Money!

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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