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Why Efficient Customer Service is Better Than Friendly

Ritter Megan
Jan 21, 2015

The sad truth about customer service is that you can’t please everybody. The old axiom about the customer always being right isn’t entirely accurate, and when you’re dealing with a lot of customers, it can sometimes be difficult to give them the experience that they are expecting. This particular issue is especially problematic if your company has a lot of different branches working together, as it can be difficult to ensure that each branch is sending the same message. This should be the goal of all big businesses. The real question is what that message should be, friendliness or efficiency, which does the customer respond to better?

In the age of social media, these seemingly innocuous issues can become a big problem very fast. It only takes one savvy customer researching your company and recording their phone calls to ruin the reputation of your business in the matter of a few days. Perhaps the most notable example of this was when a bad customer service call with Comcast went viral last summer. In the months that followed, it seemed like everyone who had a bone to pick with Comcast was suddenly recording their calls and demanding better service. But what was more appalling: the Comcast representative’s attitude or how all these problems for both parties could have been mitigated with a simple online service?

Related Article: 5 Customers That Want to Destroy Your Business

Keep Your Promises

First of all, it’s absolutely crucial to keep the promises that your business has made. If your company doesn’t stay true to its word, your customers will usually let you know about it in a big way. It’s important to be as courteous as possible, but it’s also important to make sure that you send the same message and deliver the same level of service across the board. Part of efficient customer service is being as consistent as possible, because people crave consistency. If someone watches a television ad that’s showcasing one of your stores and the characters in the ad are welcoming and gleeful, but when they enter the store they’re met with stoic introverted professionals, even if they can’t describe it, the inconsistency will put them off. Whereas if your commercial was portraying your employees as shy introverts who know what they’re talking about, people will enjoy the store experience because “it’s just like on TV,” or just like you promised.

This is one aspect where being efficient trumps being friendly. The ability to be consistent throughout all aspects of your business is more important than having an approachable attitude. A novelty 12 restaurant chain named Dick’s Last Resort boasts having bullies for staff who insult their customers. That’s the message they send out, when people go it’s what they get, and they seem to love it as the business has recently gone international.

Be Socially Available

In the modern social media landscape, users want to have their customer service needs met via social networking, and they want it done quickly. An estimated 42% of consumers expect a response to their inquiries on social media within one hour. To give you an idea of how frequently this happens, most businesses on Twitter only send one reply to such an inquiry per day, and that just isn’t going to do the trick. If you want to keep customer satisfaction high, you need to be able to respond to consumer criticism quickly and efficiently.

After the debacle that Comcast experienced in 2014, they have taken a stronger approach to damage control. Just recently, a Comcast customer took to Reddit and Youtube in order to complain about the service they were receiving over the phone. Within 24 hours, Comcast representatives had found his post, reached out to him, and worked to resolve the issue he was having. Instead of the story going viral and causing even more damage for the company, the problem was fixed and the potential negative attention was buried. If Comcast had not been on the lookout for customer complaints on social media, who knows what would have happened.

Related Article: Are You Creating a Bad Business Reputation?

The Importance of Efficiency

As nice as it is to greet your customers with a smile, in the digital age it is more important to give them reliable, efficient service. Whether this means widening your social media presence, looking out for negative customer impact or improving your overall customer service experience, it’s clear that times have changed and business practices need to change with them. If the needs of the consumer evolve, then the requirements of businesses must evolve as well. It could be as simple as hiring a few freelancers to watch the net for any mention of your business or as complicated as creating an entirely new department. No matter which direction you take, it’s time to figure out where your customer service needs work and start working on it.

Amazon, one of the most successful internet companies in history, is built upon the foundation of efficiency. Their website design is warm and welcoming, but the reason customers keep returning is because it the most efficient way to purchase products you want. It is why Amazon thrives, while bookstores are struggling, because when given the choice between a 5 minute easy online form and a 10 minute friendly customer service call, most people choose the former. That’s why the newest business are thriving: More books are purchased on Amazon more than anywhere else, Netflix has killed the video store; Starbucks, the coffee shop with shortest time between order and distribution, has the highest paid CEO in food industry. Efficient customer service is most important to your audience.

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Ritter Megan
Megan Ritter is a USC graduate student and web journalist.