You don’t have to be Scottish to celebrate the beauty and the wisdom inherent within the writings of Robert Burns. Tomorrow, people worldwide will toast the immortal memory of a man whose words still resonate 225 years after his birth.
They include several particularly apt lines for customer service professionals. Foremost in my mind is some lines from a poem rather unfittingly addressed ‘To a Louse...’
‘O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion...’
It translates as a heartfelt plea to be granted true self-awareness and to really understand how others perceive us, helping us avoid foolish mistakes and misapprehensions. Frankly, as a lesson in heeding customers’ views, being aware of failings in your own behaviour and adapting as a result of that knowledge, it is useful and indeed timeless advice.
This week we had valuable input from Melanie Howard of the Future Foundation, who is working with the Financial Ombudsman Service, on future trends in handling dissatisfied customers and on helping organisations to see themselves through the eyes of complainants. It may not be pleasant to hear what disgruntled customers have to say but it is essential if we are to keep improving - the alternative is untenable in a competitive environment.
Burns and Bill Gates may be centuries and poles apart but the Microsoft founder also recognised the importance of honest self-appraisal as well as the value of listening to how others perceive you. Gates’ commented: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
We will be announcing soon the results of new, original research we having been working on in association with Verint on ‘Why you need your customers to complain’. As well as discussing the importance of customer complaints the report incorporates operator opinion on the key challenges faced when dealing with complaints, along with consumer opinion to better understand why consumers complain, their level of service expectations and their views on how seriously organisations deal with their grievances.
Delivering change in a service environment requires a mature and respectful relationship between customer service leaders and C-suite executives - easier said than done in many instances. Our new research, just released in association with Cisco, found that in close to one-third of organisations the board never visits the contact centre while less than half of CCA members believe the rest of their organisation regards the contact centre as strategically important.
We are on a drive to change both perceptions and reality.  Making that transition is essential if customer service executives are to wield greater influence within their organisations.