As a marketing professional whose personal success is defined by providing exceptional customer service, I find it a necessary task to stay informed of the latest ways to which consumers want to be communicated. It’s important for me to know for both my clients and my clients’ clients. The challenge is—customer service principles are a moving target.
Even in my short five years in this industry, the way we manage our client relationships has flipped upside down. Today there are:
- More emails and fewer phone calls. It took me months to hear one of my clients’ voices!
- Frequent video conferencing and fewer in-person meetings.
- More social media forums to monitor and fewer hard-copy newspapers and magazines to skim for media coverage. Check out this article about “social media butlers” and how companies can hire someone just to tweet to customers on their behalf.
- Less “stopping by” a colleague’s desk and more phone calls from the office next door (although I still believe in getting up and walking for both health and sanity purposes).
- More meetings where people are disengaged, looking at their laptops, phones, etc.; and fewer meetings with just a notebook and pen, fully alert and involved in the conversation at hand.
Recently, a group of AKHIA employees got to enjoy the Indians Social Suite, where we used Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Facebook to our hearts’ content. The Indians’ marketing team did a great job of commenting back when we used the appropriate hashtags to show their enthusiasm for the game, AKHIA’s presence in the suite and, most importantly, the Tribe winning. So cool!
However, one of the nicest gestures was access to our own Indians representative who would stop by occasionally, answer any questions we had (where’s the closest hot dog stand?!), chat with us about the game and at the end, give each of us an Indians shirt that had the team’s Twitter handle on it (@Indians). I thought the personal touch was the night’s icing on the cake.
This experience confirms my thought (and AKHIA’s service platform) that although more and more consumers are migrating online—wanting an email instead of a disruptive phone call, going on Twitter to express a bad sales experience, writing on a company’s Facebook wall in hopes of a response—the heart of customer service still requires a personal touch.
Call me old school, but I still enjoy talking with my clients and catching up on their lives. I want to be engaged with companies with which I do business, both online and in-person. I still believe there is no better feeling then receiving a hand-written note—except maybe writing and sending one yourself.
Each and every customer is unique, and the key to servicing each one to the best of your ability is striking the perfect balance—which again may be different for everyone. The best customer service is delivered in a way that best suits the customer. But remember, keep it personal.
How do you prefer to communicate with your favorite companies?