Contributor:
Nic Chalk
May 27th, 2016

Customer service lessons from the meerkat

There are many aspects of customer service that are often portrayed as more complicated than they really are. This happens in all industries; sometimes for good reason, but regularly it occurs unnecessarily.  If you ask a retail customer who just scored a particular outlet very low on a survey for their reasons why they gave that score, common answers are usually along the lines of: “I couldn’t get hold of the right person to handle my query”; “I was left waiting on the phone for x minutes only to be cut off”; or “the handler could not deal with my issue and I was passed from pillar to post without resolution – it felt like they didn’t know what they were doing!” -We have all been there.

These comments have two interesting traits. Firstly, they don’t mention the problem that the customer actually experienced, e.g. “My product was broken when delivered,” or, “the wrong item was dispatched.” Customers tend to be reasonably understanding when issues arise – for the first time at least.  Secondly, the comments all have a common thread; communication!

So what do we take from this? Mistakes do happen; they always have and they always will, and there is at least some level of understanding out there about this, but what is absolutely crucial is that we are prepared to handle any issues quickly, efficiently and without repeat.

So, to my analogy, what can we learn from the meerkat? We all know the very unique pose the meerkat has when “on shift” looking for enemies and other threats while his/her gang go about their daily business cleaning, feeding and foraging.  The lookout is the reactive member, and there is always at least one individual or team taking this role. Should anything come to the attention of this lookout via any of their senses, the meerkat mob will be alerted and react accordingly.  This member will not be distracted nor leave their post for any reason other than when their shift ends and they confirm another kat “has the watch”.

If you loosely apply this analogy to the support arena and your team members and ensure you remain constantly able to react, are truly available, move heaven and earth to put right what has gone wrong when you get the call (all the while keeping the customer/user abreast of the situation), then you won’t veer far from good customer service.

Of course, I am wildly simplifying the world of support and customer service today but that isn’t by accident. Getting the basics right and following protocol each and every time is one of my Support Commandments; it is no secret that if you look after the small things then the big things take care of themselves, and I standby this age old mantra just as much.

While we will always have difficult issues to respond to, and dare I say it some customers and situations that are slightly more demanding than others, if you stick to your principles and deliver a consistent service with a rapid and effective response to issues, the customer will feel incredibly safe.

This feeling of safety and assurance goes a very long way! Customers don’t care if you have less staff because it is the Christmas period or that they are calling at 3am; they have a problem, and it was – and still is – important enough for them to find your number, pick up the phone, call you and describe their issue. Never treat this as “just another phone call”; this is the one call that the customer made and it is the only one that matters!

To that end, if you have any feedback about the service you receive at Avecto, we’d love to hear from you.

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