Is Good Customer Service Essential or Desirable?

I was quite distressed by an event that happened earlier this week. An event that could have been avoided by good customer service. My husband and I subsequently started to debate about whether it is appropriate to expect front-line member of staff to have basic customer service skills.

My view, having recruited a huge number of customer service reps for mobile phone companies along with having commissioned a significant number of skills development courses is that everybody is capable of demonstrating good customer service.  It doesn’t matter what you’re paid or your capabilities.  If it doesn’t come naturally, you can be taught how to provide good customer service.

My husband took the opposite view.  He felt my expectations of a member of staff involved in the incident this week were too high, as they are “only” a junior member of staff. Sensing that I was taking this argument personally, he let me win (this time), but I still feel passionately about this subject and hence this post.

In essence, when a member of staff encounters an angry customer  their approach should be:

1) Identify why the customer is angry;

2) Apologise (irrespective);

3) Determine what the customer would like to see as an outcome;

4) Establish next steps to either resolve the issue or alleviate the concern / worry / anxiety of the customer.

For me, this isn’t hard sums. What I do question is why some people think it’s acceptable that staff working in the NHS or the education sector can be excused from having the same level of customer service skills than those you find  in more commercial sectors?  I don’t believe that it’s desirable.  I think it’s essential that all our front-line staff have this essential skill.

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