Customer service is more than just answering the phone. It’s creating a relationship the ones who keep us in business, the customer. Customer needs should be the focus of implementing any new program, the motivation behind customer feedback, and central to decisions made by the organization.
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It’s all about the customer
Jason Nessler, the customer service manager at Aqua Glass, knows that making sure that customers needs are fulfilled is key to the success of his organization. “If a call comes in with a product issue we log all of that information and that goes to the quality team,” Nessler said of Aqua Glass’s customer-driven initiative. “If something is not favorable or if it’s repeated we’ll pass that on to the product manager and the new product development group. We log all calls so we can develop and recognize trends, assess them and see whether we need to improve the installation manual, the packing, the material itself, a design, the price book or a spec sheet. If we see a trend we flag it, log it and send the data to the appropriate people to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Serving customers requires extensive training and ongoing study and support
That focus on using customer information to develop and improve products got easier in 2009 when Aqua Glass consolidated its customer service function at headquarters in Moorestown, N.J. and beefed up its staff there to 12. The department provides live support from the United States from employees who know the product.
“We provide extensive training classes for our people with the product managers,” Nessler said. “The customer service reps have the opportunity to visit our manufacturing facilities to see how the product is made.”
Dedicated training staff facilitates ongoing training activities
The department also trains its reps in how to build relationships with wholesalers. “We do that through personal conversation,” Nessler said. “I know it’s rare but I encourage talking with customers on the wholesale side of the business. Most call centers want the call to move quickly to get to the next call; we want them to get to know the person they are talking to.”
Nessler said those conversations with customers range from installation to marketing to the weather in New Jersey. “They are personable and so are our reps. Our training goes far beyond product knowledge. We even do training in etiquette and other behavioral issues.”
Customer service is the solution to most customer problems
The paradox of that approach? Customer service has virtually eliminated hold times. “When you call you’re going to get somebody within a few seconds and we monitor that daily. If it’s out of our business hours you can email us directly.”
Sometimes even with the best of intentions and training things become difficult, said Nessler, who came to Aqua Glass after working in customer service in a very demanding business—the airline industry. “Normally, when you’re shipping bathing systems, you’re logistically challenged as far as delivery times and production. If a customer wants to make a change at the last minute that can bring challenges. Just today we had a truckload of units that had already left and the wholesaler called and said he wanted doors put on them. Normally it’s not something we can do but we solved the issue by shipping them separately to a contractor who could do that work.”
Customer service needs to adapt to different customer needs
There are rewarding assignments like the recent donation of bathing units to Habitat for Humanity and First Step, an organization that addresses domestic violence. And then there are the difficult ones where customers become irate.
Nessler has a simple but effective solution, one he learned from his customers. “We try to keep it light. We’re a team and we’ll figure it out.”
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