Case Histories: Customer Service Training
“A premium company that delivered inferior customer service”
The USA Division of a European company offering high quality, premium products realized it needed to improve its lackluster customer service since it was not in keeping with the premium-ness of the company. The CEO was extremely frustrated since it was affecting the image of the company. There was a rising trend of increasing customer complaints, missed deadlines for the shipment and delivery of products, too many financial credits given back to customers for the company’s poor service performance, and the growing acknowledgement of creating customer ill will.
Topsail Group conducted an audit of the Customer Service Department to mainly concentrate on identifying its weaknesses and shortcomings. This included individual interviews with select customers, customer service managers, and other representatives of functions that were impacted by customer service actions --- such accounts receivable, accounts payable, and the sales force. Topsail Group conducted cross-functional workshop sessions and also monitored customer service representative in their daily functional activities, procedures, and responses to customer calls, inquiries, and complaints. It was determined that there were four key problems: no clearly articulated specific procedures to address key customer issues; the same problems and issues were re-occurring on a weekly or daily basis; activity seemed to focus on the symptoms and not the underlying problems; and lastly there was no clearly defined, centralized collection for important customer and company information. Topsail Group was charged to help redefine and redirect the entire customer service function. Topsail created, trained, and implemented “Customer Services Best Practices” by focusing on customer-centric doctrine and improving operational, technical, communication, and people skills. Through its comprehensive, hands-on Customer Service Training Handbook and workshops, Topsail successfully incorporated 1) centralized, pertinent information, facts, and where to find things, 2) identified Top 10 problems/issues with specific solutions, and 3) tutorial and training on effective people, technical, and communication skills.
The customer service department was overhauled to reflect the findings. Overall customer complaints have been drastically reduced, the proper and timely shipment and delivery of products have become the norm, and there was a greater team approach among cross-functional departments to solve problems permanently. The President of the company has stated that he “now hardly hears of any customer service problems.”