Four ways to get the balance right for effective customer service

8th Jan 2018

A business’s management, says Bruce Carnegie-Brown, is always faced with choices as to whether to opt for short-term return or invest for the longer term, and delay the return it would otherwise get, in the hope of building a more sustainable business for the future.

Recent geo-political events and financial crises have highlighted that an excessive focus on short-term goals always needs to be balanced with the company’s long-term value proposition.

“For most enterprises that’s all about building trust and loyalty with their customers. It takes a long time to build and I don’t think the fundamentals around those issues have intrinsically changed,” he says.

What are the key ingredients for getting the balance just right?

1. The right business model

“A really good example would be Amazon, which in terms of returns has generated very little by way of profit in its life, but has persuaded its investors that the value of what it does in terms of its customer proposition is such that it’s rewa2. A customer service ethosrded with a market valuation of about $450 billion,” Carnegie-Brown.

Customer behaviour is also changing and organisations need to rise to and meet new customer expectations and needs. “The customer experience is expected to be seamless both in terms of engagement with the enterprise, and also when it comes to the delivery dates and logistics. It’s about how quickly people can fulfil their wishes – and I think that’s changed fundamentally,” explains Carnegie-Brown.

2. A customer service ethos

Lloyd’s own research has indicated that a major global cyber-attack could trigger $53 billion of economic losses. So how can customer service strategies cope with the impact of a sudden and major catastrophe?

“The key to the development of this market over time is the level of preparedness that individual companies have around this kind of event. More and more, the nature of the risk is going to be linked not just to how vulnerable you are to an attack, but also to how, when an attack happens, you respond to it.”

3. Taking note of key indicators

Carnegie-Brown says one answer is to build on trans-sector excellence. “We’ve got to learn from each other and understand what ‘good’ looks like. All of us are consumers, and so we experience things as consumers. We need to bring that perspective back into our organisations much more obviously.”

He continues: “The balance of additional measures now includes employee engagement, which we know has a very strong link with customer satisfaction, and the handling of complaints.”

4. Looking into the future

Carnegie-Brown believes business now has to quickly learn to respond to unforeseen events in real time in order for it to deliver value for its customers – and keep them satisfied. “When we think about how quickly information travels now and how little time you have to react – and how your first reaction becomes the most important reaction – it’s an incredibly difficult and new skill for management.”

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