By: Lisa Kamper
One of the most frustrating things to me today as a customer/consumer is when I call a company and an automated operator tells me to select one of the following options. Then when you do, it is usually the wrong option. Then you’re instructed to push the star key to return to the main menu only to start the entire process over again. Your only goal at that point is to speak to someone who can listen to your needs, help find a resolution to an issue, even for something as simple as just paying a bill. Many companies today appear to be moving towards automated response models; they are looking at these systems to provide information, solve problems and even diagnose issues. The drive towards these types of systems is in reaction to the demand to cut costs.
We at Partners in Association Management pride ourselves on providing the best live customer service possible. For example, several of our clients at Partners offer classified ad placement, both printed and digitally. While we could have looked at streamlining and offering an online placement process, we chose to provide live customer assistance with their placement. We talk with the potential advertiser, assess their needs and provide the highest level of customer service. We develop the insertion order, email them directly and provide follow-up contact via telephone to ensure they are completely satisfied.
In fact, this is the standard for Partners no matter what you’re calling about. When you contact our office, instead of getting an automated message asking you to select a language or determine which department you want to speak with, you will get one of our trained member service representatives after the initial “Thank you for calling” message. They will greet you, give you their name, and take the time to answer your questions or transfer you to the appropriate person who can further assist you. Our primary goal is to be efficient but the ultimate goal is to touch as many customers as possible and develop personal, human-to-human relationships. We believe this model has led us to build a strong brand loyalty, and leads to higher sales and profits for our client associations and ultimately Partners.
If you’re thinking about moving to an automated support or automated sales system due to the need to save money, it may not be the best place to start. Look at companies like Apple, which are known for earning more money per square foot in all of their stores. This is because they have more live customer service support and sales staff per square foot than any other major retail store in the world.
Live customer service can help you to build a loyalty brand.