If you were a customer, what would satisfy you with with the current state of services you are receiving? Working as a Technical Support Representative, customer satisfaction is the primary goal of our industry – we aim to please the customer and hope to retain his loyalty to the company and its product by banking on his satisfaction with our service.
Yet customer satisfaction is the hardest metric to achieve by any hard working representative. Most of the time, customers call in already frustrated and disgruntled with the product that it takes a lot of efforts to make them satisfied and happy again.
In line with the upcoming QA Apprenticeship interview, of which I was asked to prepare for, came to mind the various ideas by which I think customer satisfaction would be drastically improved in our specific account; in our specific product. Basically our account only represents one product – an anti-virus software provided by an ISP company to its subscribers. There is only one product that determines how satisfied our customers are.
I lament that often times this product fails its expectations. I do not know whether it’s because the customers are only receiving a small portion of a vast product suite – and a free one at that – or simply because the manufacturers of the AV software are capitalists, in and out, that they only aspire to leach out more money from their customers. I beg to disagree on both accounts though. I’ve decided to give the benefit of the doubt to the AV company. Yes, the customers may only be receiving a few components of a bigger suite but I would like to believe that these few components are the most essential ones for virus protection and as such are the most developed and top of the line components of the said suite. I would also like to believe that the company itself cares about its customers, their satisfaction and the general improvement of their products – whether as stand-alone components or as part of a bigger suite.
And so with these beliefs held in check, I launch on to my ideas for attaining better customer satisfaction.
First. I learned from my previous job that the best way to represent a company or its product is to experience it for yourself. You cannot really convince someone that this movie is a must-watch if you haven’t watched it. Or you cannot hope to persuade someone to try out the new restaurant if you haven’t tried it out yourself. Point is: you have to know, deep in, the item that you represent. In our case, we represent this specific AV software. Yet I don’t think any of us really has the AV software or even a relative of it in our computers – if we have computers that is. I, myself, use a different AV software, and admittedly, believe deep down that the AV software I represent or work for is not the top of the line. With that thinking alone, how can I hope to really satisfy my customers? How can I hope to persuade them, with all honest conviction, that what they have is the best protection for their computer when I myself am not convinced and in fact is using a competitor software? See the irony; the difficulty and complexity of the situation?
Companies think of agents or representatives as mere dummies who can carry out instructions as told; people who are cold enough to deceive customers and to simply act the part. Of course they don’t teach this in training. During training they teach you how to be the best agent for a customer – to care for the customer. But they don’t tell you that deep down you are expected to simply act the part. Treat it as a job. Nothing more. Nothing personal. Customers are simply helpless people who are on the other side of the world and if you can get away fooling them with your charms then you’re all set. Agents are taught to care for their customers but are never really expected to honestly do so. For how can they really empathize with a customer’s concern when they haven’t really experienced the customer’s frustration? When they are merely faking empathy?
Second. Product improvement would go a long way indeed. If people would just, say for a split second, be more humane so that instead of thinking of methods of how to leech out money from others by selling them a malfunctioning product then selling them the solution to it, instead sell the original product for a higher cost yet assures that it incurs no further costs until its renewal, wouldn’t that be a more compassionate way of doing business without sacrificing profits? Specific case in point: I cannot fathom how the AV software, supposedly top of the line, will allow the same spyware that has been around for months, to infect a computer again and again. Then the solution offered will be to offer a removal service for an ludricous amount considering the current fiscal crisis. And we are expected to delude the customers to thinking it was their stupidity that has brought this sad fate upon them? I have encountered customers who were jobless and were trying to seek jobs online but were unable to do so because their computers were infected with viruses – viruses that their free AV software were supposed to get rid of. Of course we have all the standard rebuttals ready for this yet sometimes, we ourselves can’t help but think that the AV software itself is to blame. And given this misgivings and apparent greed for money so blatantly practiced, we are expected to reap in customer satisfaction?
Third. If I was a customer, talking to a technician on the phone, facing a seemingly end-of-the-world computer error, I would want the quickest and most effective troubleshooting step there is. If I have something important to do in the computer – like publish my blogs or play Mafia Wars – and I can’t do it because my AV software is not functioning correctly, when I call in, I want the quickest solution possible. And yet we are given TS step by TS step that are known not to work yet we must perform so as to ensure that we are following quality procedures. I think doing TS steps that doesn’t work does not translate to quality and as such are not even worthy to be part of quality advisories. How can you hope to satisfy a customer if you keep him on the line, giving out TS steps that you know will not work and infringing on his patience and his time? Even if the issue becomes resolved in the end, of course you know the ultimate solution, it’s just that there are TS steps that needs to be done prior to the correct solution as per quality advisory, the customer becomes satisfied not because he was really satisfied but merely because he was glad to have the ordeal over with. I know that probably this non-working TS steps need to be performed to sort of gather statistically-acceptable data that they do not work. But then do we really need to infringe on a customer just so we can gather data to check if the TS step works or not? Maybe we can tell the customer at the onset of the call, “We are currently conducting a research to see if this TS step works or not for your current issue. Would you like to participate in this study? We would appreciate it if you would agree. There is a chance that the TS step may or may not work and we would be spending considerable amount of time doing these steps, but then we would be eternally grateful that you have helped us find out.” I’m sure there are better ways to check out if a TS step really works or not.
By thus far these are the items that has really caught my attention as to how customer satisfaction is carried out in our account. We have customer surveys that measure customer satisfaction but then since this is connected to an agent’s metrics, which are related to an agent’s salary, then agents’ have a way of ensuring that the surveys they receive are mostly positive ones. And as such the whole point of the survey is made null. If I am not mistaken the survey was also created to find out why customers are dissatisfied. Whenever I fill out customer satisfaction surveys, I make sure to give comments on how service or product can be improved. In our account, any comment bordering on the negative, constitutes a trigger which drastically affects an agent’s stat. And as such one cannot blame agents when they make sure that the only customers who receive surveys are those who they know were really satisfied. Now how about the customers who were dissatisfied? How can they have their voices heard? How will the company know what to improve on if they do not hear their criticisms?
I still consider myself a newbie in this industry. But for all it’s worth, I’ve seen things that I know can be improved – can be made better. Being the person who I know I am, I itch to make things better; to resolve the things that can be resolved. I may be a small voice, but I know I have a voice. And I strive for that voice to be heard. Maybe that is why I am not too eager to resign as before. For I have found something worth staying for which I’m afraid may get me fired in the end.