-James Summers CEO at Conker (weareconker.com)-
Exceptional customer service
We can all recount examples of good customer service and we all understand the frustrations of being handed over to the next representative who is no more empowered than the previous one. Nobody wants to experience bad or even mediocre customer service. Here James Summers, CEO at Conker, shares his experience and advice for ensuring first-class customer service.
My early career was in IT, following which I was involved in a variety of businesses. Identifying the opportunities tablets represented for businesses in 2008 led to the launch of Conker – I haven’t looked back since.
Time to eradicate mismatching businesses with the wrong tech
Experiences of early technology shaped my thinking around bad tech and customer centricity. Starting my own business offered a clean slate and I realised there was an amazing opportunity to build something special from the ground up. Understanding that a customer-centric organisation requires the right mindset, tenacity, empathy, knowledge, customer insight and consistency, we set about creating these intrinsic values at every level, in every department.
Focus on internal systems
Great products and systems will always help. I’d advocate any business should focus on building internal systems, enabling them to track every single asset and its performance for its entire lifetime. In our business, analysis helps us to guide our customers around the performance of their device estate and flag if there are anomalies that need attention. Even with the best fit-for-purpose products, performing in the most demanding environments, the real value for customers is the response they get to events that happen after the purchase is made.
Understanding product failure
Technology will, and does, go wrong. We have possibly more than a mild obsession with understanding everything we can about failure and the total cost of ownership. Customers want their suppliers to have a contingency plan, take responsibility and make life easy for them.
Keep it simple
Most examples of good customer service can be quite simple. Explaining what good outcomes look like helps everyone to understand the philosophy of the experience you want your customer service team to deliver. An excellent starting point is to look through the lens of the customer and understand what they need, not shoehorning what your systems can or can’t do.
Drawing on the restaurant experience can be helpful to explain what staff can do. For example, front-of-house staff don’t need to get approval to offer a customer a complimentary glass of wine because they had to wait a little longer for their table. Touches of customer delight are built into their training and delivered automatically.
Train your team to take responsibility and go the extra mile
I believe it’s imperative to train every member of your team to take responsibility and use their discretion in how they delight your customers – the aim is for them to take ownership and want to become customers’ trusted partners.
I’d encourage executives to seek out ‘go the extra mile’ stories and celebrate them. This effectively adds to peer-to-peer learning and builds up confidence that it is okay to jump in the car, at 5 p.m. on a Friday, to deliver a mission-critical item to a valued customer – these touches just take a little bit of thoughtfulness.
Make it easy to communicate with your team
Many businesses focus on initiatives to minimise and automate service believing that it lowers costs, but in most instances, it damages customer confidence and creates a secondary demand for service based on the initial failure. Business-to-business service queries are usually more complex than those that can be solved by automated customer service agents via your website. Being available and highly responsive is usually greatly appreciated and rewarded with loyalty. This is particularly important in these current times of economic uncertainty when brand loyalty will be of huge value to your company’s stability and bottom line.
If you believe that innovation lies in solving problems you’ll be solving your clients’ wider problems and adding value. When we’re helping our customers to achieve significant reductions in their downtime, we know that we’re hitting our targets – targets that go way beyond the measurement of the number of calls answered and on-time deliveries.
Notes to editors:
Conker was founded in 2008 and offers a wide range of rugged devices for mobile workforces built on both Android and Windows platforms. The company is committed to improving productivity and workflows
UK-based, Conker devices are shipped from and serviced in the UK. Customers go directly through to a UK-based team person at Conker not to a switchboard or IVR.
The company was recognised as one of the FT 1000 Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies (2018) and is a Winner Deloitte Technology Fast 500 (2017).
Katrina Suppiah/Laura Cooke
020 8543 6582