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Executive Interview : Interview With Mike Gilpatrick From MSG Management Consulting
Mike Gilpatrick from MSG Management Consulting weighs in on the contact center industry and strides taken in recent history. Is the overall industry better or worse? Are certain industry sectors better than others? Find out in this exclusive interview.
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?
In general as the experience level of managers grows less and less, the quality of customer service has suffered. In some companies you can see that customer service is the highest priority. Apple, AT&T, Whole Foods are just some examples of companies that focus on customer service. There are many more I am sure. However, some of the companies I will not name that prided itself on high customer service have declined. In my opinion, I believe it is due to the lost art of training, and hiring for the best quality of customer service possible.
Do you believe there is a correlation between the service you receive as a consumer and your loyalty to the supplier?
There is no question that I consider the quality of customer service I received to the loyalty I have to that company. AT&T is one example, Apple is another. In each case, I could purchase a lower priced service from other companies, however, I do not want to risk the quality customer service I currently receive for an unknown from a different company.
In your opinion, which industry sectors provide great service and which ones are poor?
Cell phone companies, and high tech are the industries that I believe provide both the highest and sometimes the lowest depending on the company. Overall industry-wide I believe the dish TV companies provide the poorest customer service. They do not have much by way of competition and in some geographical areas they have no competition therefore they do not place customer service as a priority.
Can you recall a really good experience recently - where you were WOW'd by the service you received?
I was recently in Arizona for my ailing mother. She was dying, and I needed to return home. While I was at the airport my iPad was stolen. I was heartbroken as the last pictures of my mother were on that iPad and it just made a difficult trip more sad. When I went to the Apple store to let them know what happened, I was shown incredible compassion, and I was shown amazing customer service. As I sat there (having gone directly from the airport to the Apple Store, I was approached by a Manager of the store, and offered a very significant discount in a replacement having heard what I just went through. I was a 58 year old man at the time, and it brought me to tears. They had no reason to believe me, yet they took a chance, and I will be an Apple customer for life.
Talking about bad experiences, where do companies go wrong with the service they provide?
I believe it is in the training provided to the staff. Too many employees are placed on the phone way before they are properly trained and ready to handle complex issues. A financial institution that I needed help with for my account. The individual had no idea of the options available and my call needed to be transferred. The problem with that was that I had to explain the issues completely again from the very beginning. A second such example was with the Satellite radio customer service phone call I made. The representative did not know the products at all that were available to me. She had to refer to a supervisor no less than 5 times. Clearly training was not provided adequately enough to provide her that information to give me in the first call resolution.
Have you noticed any differences in service from people from different cultures?
The service differentiates from the ability to understand the language I speak. I find that the more difficult I find to understand the person at the other end of the phone, the less the quality of customer service that exists. On balance, I would say that more foreign customer service representatives are more apt to give a higher degree of customer service.
If you had to give just 1 tip regarding the use of technology in relation to improving customer service, what would your tip be?
My recommendation would be that the reason I called into customer service be somehow entered at the very beginning of the call so it stays with the call as it is escalated, if necessary avoiding having to repeat the issues multiple times.
If you had to give just 1 tip regarding staff in relation to improving customer service, what would your tip be?
Training, Training, Training. Without a doubt focus on training and insuring the training is robust enough so they are equipped to resolve issues on the first call.
If you had to give just 1 tip regarding business processes in relation to improving customer service, what would your tip be?
Improve and be more diligent in the quality of new hires a business has. Take more time, and screen them better to have a higher quality employee.
In your opinion, how should contact centers measure the level of service they give?
Pay more attention to the monitoring that should be done in real time. Spend time with each employee on a regular basis hearing the calls they take, and using those to point out where improvement can be made in the calls they take. They should be scored, and developed in a way that breaks down each area and category that could result in significant improvement and identify specifically where improvement is needed.
Lastly, can you share with us one of the worst customer service experiences you have experienced recently?
When I wanted to check with my dish tv company if they had similar programing and equipment to the company that solicited my business, they were unable to tell me what they could provide for me that was either comparable or better than I was being offered. This included pricing. I had been a long time client and yet they were unable to help me. When I discussed closing the account, they transferred me to the "retention" department that said. "ok" to my request. When the account did not actually close as agreed to, I called back, and only then after I had my new equipment installed and working, they attempted to try to retain me. When I told them no that it was too late, the response was "you'll be back". No I have not been back, and will never.
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Published: Thursday, December 11, 2014