Have You Got a Customer Service Philosophy ?

Have you got a customer service philosophy?  This is a question that any service provider, designer of user experiences and pretty much any other professional outlet should stop and ask themselves at some point. Often underestimated as not so important to user experience, is in fact one of the key notes in positive user experience to have a strong, fleshed out customer service philosophy which can account for just about any contingency you and your customers may encounter.

When a customer rates their user experience in hindsight, they’re going to factor in customer service as one of the big variables in their overall opinion. There is invariably going to be a time when a customer has some sort of problem be it technical or contractual with a service or product your company produces. It’s unavoidable, as the cliché goes, you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

However, there is a loophole to this cliché, that being a strong customer service philosophy. There is a fine line to walk with this, as being too generous and yielding two overbearing customers is just as calamitous as being unwilling to compromise with them at all. If you’re too giving, customers will flock to take advantage of this, citing discontentment over trivial things in order to exploit free service, or excessive compensation for things that are not your responsibility.

On the other hand, not being willing to compromise at all and being too rigid will absolutely alienate customers altogether. A balance must be struck, and the best place to start is with consulting user experience professionals who have seen both sides of this fence, and know where the middle ground lies.

There was a time when this was less of an issue, at least at any rate of speed. However, in this digital age, a single user can utterly and completely derail any company’s reputation with a single bitter post on a web site such as Google +1. These reviews never go away, there’s no way to refute them. Word gets around quickly in the modern age, and there are an increasing number of web sites and digital companies dedicated to relaying customer opinions and stories of user experience straight from the horse’s mouth.

With that in mind, when a user experience is being designed, or you were founding a service or company, the first question you should ask yourself is, have you got a customer service philosophy?

The greatest mistake most user experience providers make is assuming that the product itself is rated higher in the user experience than customer service. This is the undoing of many whose service and products are otherwise exemplary.

When a service or product that you are attempting success with fails, before debugging the product and trying to figure out what went wrong, ask yourself that all important question. The question isn’t where did I go wrong with the product, or where did I go wrong with my terms of service. No ask yourself, have you got a customer service philosophy ?

Stefanie Amini
is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe