If one of the goals for your organization is to offer significantly better customer service than your competitors, a great way to start is to study the companies that have become huge and successful in large part because of their own extraordinary customer service.
Thousands of companies claim to have the best service on the planet, but they’re not exactly objective judges. So if we’re going to take an honest look at the best of the best, we should turn to a more impartial source. Specifically, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is among the nation’s most-trusted customer service research providers.
In a story for Forbes, ACSI analyzed three years of survey data about customer service and named the top companies. If you look at the top ten, you’ll see some familiar names that probably won’t surprise you if you already do business with them.
Five Supermarket Chains and the $1.50 Hot Dog
Half of the companies in the Top Ten list are supermarkets. In order, that list includes Trader Joe’s, Aldi, HEB Grocery, Publix, and Wegmans. While it technically isn’t a supermarket, many of us enjoy stocking up for groceries (and grabbing a $1.50 hot dog) from Costco, another name on the list.
The rest of the list
Two auto companies – actually two divisions of the same company – also earned honors: Toyota and Lexus. And the world’s second-biggest retailer, Amazon, earned a place on the Top Ten list. The last name is the only restaurant to be included, Chick-fil-A and its legions of smiling employees who claim it’s their pleasure to serve your meals.
So what about you?
You may dream of having the best customer service in your industry, but that dream isn’t quite so quickly realized, especially given a startup’s budget constraints. While customer service can take many forms, let’s look at it in terms of one of the most important: your call center. Whether your company sells a product or a service, you’re bound to get contacted by customers who need some help. Perhaps they don’t understand the manual you’ve carefully developed. Maybe they did something wrong in the installation stages. It could be what you sold them just isn’t working as it should. So they reach out to you.
First impressions matter
How you handle those contacts is a key factor in how people will view your company’s customer service. Know that old saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression? It’s absolutely true! Your company’s reputation is defined from the moment that customer call is answered. How you resolve their issue largely determines what they’ll think about you.
What often happens
Here’s what typically happens to organizations or startups when it comes to customer service. For this example, let’s say you’re manufacturing an innovative piece of technology that’s usually foolproof. But nothing is perfect (especially regarding users’ understanding), so your company starts to get calls from frustrated or panicked users. Initially, you route those calls to some of your employees, such as your resident engineering experts. But as the number of calls increases, those employees spend less time on the work they should be doing. Plus, they start getting frustrated at repeatedly answering the same questions or being yelled at by angry callers. Now you have a morale problem that could cause a turnover.
Your service desk
So you decide to establish a service desk to handle those calls. What exactly will that entail? For starters, you’ll need to find and hire enough employees to handle the call volume during your established hours. (You may not think you need 24-hour coverage, but that customer who works the night shift disagrees.) You also have to provide pay and benefits for all those employees.
What about physical needs? You’ll need space for your service desk operation, which probably involves a buildout, new furniture, and plenty of expensive technology, from software to new phone and internet lines. And did we mention training and supervision? Suddenly, your bright idea to create a consumer service infrastructure looks like an expensive proposition.
A better approach
What if you took a different approach? Instead of building a customer service operation from the ground up, you outsourced those functions to a company specializing in that work. A company that has earned a reputation for the same quality of service customers of those national brands have come to expect. Someone like Netfor, for example.
Netfor is responsible for ensuring your customers can get the help they need 24/7/365. You don’t need to find someone willing to work the midnight shift because that’s our job. We use a proven process to learn everything we need to know to handle those calls and put that information on a system so our team can access it instantly. When a caller asks for help adjusting the left-handed widget, our team knows exactly what to tell them. And, because our agents specialize in providing Costco-quality service, the caller comes away with a positive impression of your company. They have no idea they’ve been talking to an outsourced provider.
What about the cost?
We knew you’d wonder about that. So here’s what we did. Instead of making a rough guess of how the cost of using Netfor’s service desk would compare to starting your own, we created a free, simple (and anonymous) tool. It’s the total cost of ownership (TCO) calculator on our website.
To use it, all you have to do is enter a handful of factors —
- Hours a day your service desk needs to be available,
- Hourly pay rate
- Call duration
- The complexity of calls you receive
The TCO calculator then generates an itemized table, including a remarkably accurate estimate of the true costs of managing the process in-house, along with the estimated cost of outsourcing those services to our team. Want to see the difference between offering services 24/7 and just during regular business hours for your time zone? You can do that, too.
And because our tool is anonymous, you won’t have to worry about being harassed by salespeople (although we’ll be happy to have a friendly conversation when you’re ready).
Lexus-Quality Customer Service
In other words, even if your startup only employs a couple dozen people, you can offer customer service that’s every bit as good as those familiar names mentioned earlier – and cheaper than it would cost you to do on your own.
“Netfor brings it’s best value to companies that are receiving over 2,000 inbound calls per month, but we’re not contrstrained to a much higher number.”Jeff Medley – CEO & Founder
There are other advantages of working with Netfor, too. For starters, because we’re handling multiple clients, we can balance each client’s ebbs and flows in call volume. We also incorporate best practices like queue callback. Your service cost is predictable and scalable. And we’re motivated to deliver the best service possible so our business grows alongside yours. Plus, we back our promises with plenty of data, so you’ll never wonder how much we’re doing for you or how good we are. You’ll see it in numbers.
Your startup may not have much in common with Amazon and Toyota, but by teaming up with Netfor, you can immediately start offering customer services that’s every bit as good as theirs. And remember, you can see exactly what’s involved by checking out our free TCO calculator. The sooner you do that, the sooner you start setting new standards for your industry.