No, this isn’t another rant about a cable company. It’s now cliché that cable companies are notoriously BIG offenders when it comes to customer service. However, there are a few important lessons buried in how they operate.
1. Rewarding customers who want to disconnect their service by offering a better deal is a well-known tactic of this industry. It’s hard to trust someone who responds only when you’re unhappy. What can we learn from this? Remember to ask ourselves and our teams how often we are taking the pulse of our colleagues, our customers and members to ensure that they are satisfied, loyal and happy. Are you checking in with your top-, middle- and bottom-tier members before they call with a complaint—or worse yet, cancel their membership?
2. My service agent told me that I’d always be treated with respect and that my satisfaction was his top priority. I believe him. However the systems, policies, rules, financial models and strategies of my cable company don’t give him a chance to do this. He can only work within the bounds of the systems that have been created for him. Do your systems and policies position everyone in your organization to treat every member with the highest level of service? Whose permission does your call center manager, membership director or on-site events team need to delight a member or guest?
3. I know the efficiency of having four different voice prompts and numbers to press on my phone before I reach an agent—large-volume call centers have done the math. The trade-offs must be worth the loss of love these efficiencies create. Fortunately, you’re not in the business of serving millions of people every year. Regardless of the size of your membership, you can go the extra mile most of the time. Never become too big to fail, or so big that efficiency trumps effectiveness. You are, after all, in the service business.
When was the last time you attempted to contact your organization as a customer? Have you ever used your online chat feature, responded to a member survey request, or called your front desk anonymously to see how friendly, how responsive and how quickly they provide a solution?
People respect what you inspect. Become your association’s secret shopper and see how well your customer service stacks up. Let’s give a shout out to our cable companies for reminding us how to deliver great service.