Customer Experiences

Q&A: 'Level Five' customer service amazes

Jack Ogden
of Ballarat, Victoria asks:

I’m not sure my company does customer service well. Sure, my employees are friendly enough when customers call. Orders are taken smoothly and pleasantly. We rarely receive a complaint. Yet, I have a nagging worry that we are missing out somehow. The interaction we have seems flat and two dimensional, but I can’t identify the problem. I need fresh eyes to look at this area. Would you assist?

Kenelm Tonkin,
Chairman, Tonkin Corporation answers:

Congratulations. You are aiming for superior customer care and this is better than most. The truth is, from their inception, most enterprises are designed to offer only inferior service.

To assess your company’s customer care ability, try this handy diagnostic. It’s a five level framework, each progressing to a higher level of sophistication, building on the lower levels. You might apply it to your business.

At Level One, ventures simply take sales orders and nothing more. Rating: 1/10.  

Level Two businesses understand that taking orders is insufficient and that the person liaising with the customer must be armed with credible, reliable information to assist the customer make choices leading to the sale. Rating: 3/10.  

Then Level Three is for enterprises which truly begin the customer service journey. They process sales with well-informed customer sales representatives who enhance the buying experience - the Level Two capability - plus also seek post-sale feedback. This initiative is not sporadic but generated from an in-built, carefully designed business system of staff training, procedures, documentation, probably IT and definitely independent audit. Thoughtfulness, time, money and serious follow-through are needed from the founder, which explains why most enterprises never climb this high. Rating: 5/10.  

Where Level Three is concerned with gaining customer insight about the original transaction, Level Four is about offering superior care in the after-sales phase. Companies at this level of sophistication now turn to customer loyalty with ongoing, accessible programmes of care, leading to additional sales because trust and reliability have been proven. The return is not immediate but differentiates the company for the long-term. Few proprietors commit. Rating: 7/10.  

In the knowledge that customers yearn for relationships and that relationships are not always about money, Level Five corporations engage customers about their aspirations and fulfilment well beyond the sale and after-sale environments. They talk when a sale is not anticipated and are vigilant for sales calls masquerading as customer service. It’s about conversation not monologue. Formulaic emails are insufficient. These extraordinary calls amaze customers for their rarity and word of mouth proliferates. Lifetime loyalty is the result. Rating: 10/10.  

You know your business. You have this tool. What is your company’s customer service rating?

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