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Leadership team interview: What is customer service?

As part of #NationalCustomerServiceWeek we sat down with CEO Shirley Woolham and members of our leadership team Rizwan Mughal and Laura Bleasby to discuss the importance of customer service.

Why do you think customer service is more of a focus for companies now?

Shirley – “As consumers of service today, we have so many choices of where to go and which companies we use.  Many times lowest price may be a factor, but where there is very little in it, companies stand out for their service and the way they treat people.  Also we are seeing the rise of the “conscious consumer” who want to test the values of the company, assessing what they stand for and how they treat their people and their customers.  Finally, with so little time spare in our lives, we want to work with companies who recognise that and provide the right level of service to get us what we need in the way we need it.”

Rizwan – “Customer service has always been a key focus for companies, but is more important than ever now that we are faced with digitally astute customers. Gone are the days where customers were geographically limited, or loyal through brand familiarity. Companies have to do more to ensure customers are treated fairly and that they are provided a high level service. Failure to do this will result in prompt negative feedback, complaints, and the swift departure of the customer, which will impact on a company’s reputation, and ultimately the bottom line.

Laura –“There are several factors that can contribute to this and therefore I can only talk of my own personal opinion on the matter. I think with the development of social media and online interaction, customers are more aware of services and more are openly sharing opinions (like on Trustpilot). As a result a businesses level of customer service is more visible to everyone. I don’t think it is more of a focus for some businesses, as many for years have held customer service as their USP, and this has kept them a strong player in their field. I think the shift now is the availability of data to know if service is good or bad and that is what is focusing the minds of other businesses.”

What do you think customer service is?

Shirley – “Understanding what I need and meeting my needs all the time, every time.  And then finding ways to really surprise me….. Yes, we will do free home delivery and I will actually text you and commit to a one hour delivery slot to remove the need for you to stay in the house…….just what I needed!”

Rizwan – “The basic tenet of good customer service for us, as a legal services firm, is to provide accurate, timely, and clear advice. Additional key aspects our clients expect from our service includes clear communication, empathy, and positive results. “

Laura – “In brief I think, customer service is ensuring the customer receives the goods or service they are expecting, with minimal effort from them to get it, knowing what they are getting, when and that this means their needs and expectations.”

How do you champion customer service in your teams?

Shirley – “By always making sure our customer measures are recognised as one of the most important measures of success we have.”

Rizwan – “We’re governed by SRA principles, so we have a high threshold to begin with as we must always act in our clients’ best interests. With that in mind, we continually monitor Google and Trustpilot reviews and ensuring we provide ongoing training and development to colleagues. We regularly send clients surveys at specific points during their claim, so that feedback is monitored throughout, and colleagues receive that feedback with provides positive affirmation. “

Laura – “To be a customer service champion you need to talk about and understand your customer, we are not there to make the customer follow our processes, we are there to provide what the customer needs. I embed that by talking about the person not the case, and encouraging the teams to do the same.”

What was the last experience you had of amazing customer service?

Shirley – “Like many of us, I had a planned holiday cancelled due to Covid-19.  Jet2 gave me a no quibble refund and kept me informed of the situation via email and text.  How they handled a difficult situation has meant that I will remain loyal to them as a customer.”

Laura – “Wow this is a hard one as I am a very difficult person to please. I think my best example in these strange times has actually been the local independent places. I wanted to take my parents for a coffee and cake for my mums birthday but due to my parents age and health issues this was a challenge. However the local place agreed with me the measures in advance, and were very supportive during our visit and allowed my parents to by pass the one way system safely and made them feel like they were no trouble (even thought they were a huge inconvenience to the shop). That personal touch is what good customer service is to me”

Rizwan -“I booked a classic car for my sister’s wedding earlier this year and the customer service experience from start to finish was exceptional.  It’s a family run business and the owners went above and beyond to book the perfect car for the wedding. The car I wanted to book was already booked, but the owner managed to speak to the other customer to get them an alternative car, which was initially their first choice, which had become available. On the day, the car looked immaculate, and the driver was personable and professional. Overall, the experience from booking, to the actual wedding day, was flawless.”