National Customer Service Week celebrates the importance of customer service and the people who serve and support customers daily. It was established by the International Customer Service Association (ICSA) in 1984 and proclaimed a national event by the U.S. Congress in 1992. National Customer Service Week is an annual celebration for organizations dedicated towards delivering both a valuable customer experience and a high level of satisfaction.
What are the key considerations when delivering and supporting customer service? Here are some best practices that have worked for Ricoh:
Customer service starts from the inside first. Regardless of whether there is direct or indirect contact with customers, every employee must understand that their contributions generate value with the customer in mind. Support for peers from one department to another – in some shape or form eventually trickles down in providing service to both potential and existing customers. At Ricoh, everyone is considered a customer.
Know Your Customer
Understanding customer demographics also provides a better insight into their comfort level interacting with your organization. It also enables those responsible for managing the customer to serve them better. In order to exceed customer expectations and deliver a valuable customer experience, finer details such as the frequency and channels of communication must be gathered.
With a diverse range of offerings to support, Ricoh’s customer base represents a broad range of unique needs and expectations. At Ricoh, the customer centric approach starts from the customer’s first interaction with Sales, right through to Services, Customer support and beyond.
Create Valuable Touch Points
Some customers prefer human interaction; others may prefer to communicate electronically, and some may prefer a combination of the two. Wherever your customer sits on the channels of communication scale, it’s imperative to provide valuable and accessible touch points with the customer to reinforce your commitment in serving their needs.
Call center support (both during and out of hours) provides customers with a personal touch. The benefits of speaking to customers directly are two-fold. Customers gain a sense of reassurance that their issues or pain points are being understood and actioned. Likewise, by engaging in conversation with the customer, other potential areas of improvement can also be identified. The team at Ricoh’s call center are trained to create a customer experience that exceeds expectations and to relay to the customer that Ricoh cares.
A proactive customer follow-up program also serves as an additional touch point to connect with the customer directly. This type of program should not be misconstrued as a cold call opportunity. It should be an informal customer check in to better understand their experience of your organization and to offer additional support when needed.
Ricoh’s Welcome Call program is a standardized process where customers are contacted a month after they have received a Ricoh installation. The purpose of the call is to learn how effective their experience of Ricoh’s technologies has been in their digital workplace, while providing additional resources or supporting information.
On the opposite end of the scale, there is another customer demographic that prefers a more direct approach. Many customers prefer to interact via electronic means where their issues are logged and recorded within the customer support systems made available to them.
The electronic channels of support at Ricoh allows customers to request service calls or order consumables directly through their MyRicoh account. This online support channel is facilitated by an online chat function with a Ricoh customer service rep for additional support.
Customer Service Systems and Processes
Regardless of what touch point is preferred by the customer, their experience of your organization largely depends on how efficiently their issues are actioned and resolved. Any organization with a major customer account will include a customer service level agreement. This defines your customer’s expectation for service and support delivery. To succeed in delivering and exceeding customer service, having the right systems and processes in place is vital.
For Ricoh, all issues are logged through our Customer Resolution System (CRS). The CRS is a centralized system designed to capture the voice of the customer and of Ricoh. All issues logged via the CRS are intended to be resolved within a 48-hour period.
Measure and Assess
While Customer Centricity should remain at the forefront of any organization’s customer service activities, it’s equally important to consider the significance of regular measurement and assessment. The absence of these means an organization does not have a valid benchmark (whether it be a Net Promoter Score or a Customer Loyalty Index) to indicate how well they are performing in their delivery of customer service.
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) highlights the corporate wide focus for the customer. It also provides an insight to how well an organization is performing in providing a valuable customer experience. While the NPS may be achieved through a compilation of customer service initiatives, at Ricoh it also identifies how equipped Ricoh employees are with the relevant tools, training and knowledge in delivering a high standard of customer care.
As we conclude our activities for Customer Service week for yet another year, our dedication in delivering quality and valuable customer service continues daily. Ricoh’s rating on the NPS remains high as a result of knowing our customer, creating valuable touch points and having systems in place to measure and assess our activities. All this would not be possible without the ongoing commitment and engagement of all our employees.