Can “Good Customer Service” and “Large Corporation” be Used in the Same Sentence?

frustrationUnlike some previous essays, this essay will raise more questions than answers. Indeed, it is the community of readers who may provide the answers. One of the benefits of capitalism is the growth of business. One can start a business and grow it to a very large corporation through organic growth, mergers and acquisitions. But the question is whether service companies can grow large and still maintain a focus on the customer.

The problem, if my own experience is an example, is that companies will grow to a size where the overhead and administration of the company, and its processes, will result in lower customer service and the inability for customers to connect with the company. How many times have you tried to reach someone in a very large healthcare or finance company and found you have to maneuver through multiple levels of the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system only to have the call dropped, be connected to the wrong person, or worst case found yourself in a loop of menus?

I suspect there may be a few causes for these types of problems such as

  • The customer is asked to self-select on the IVR, and they may not be the best decision-maker, as they try to fit their query into one of the limited options offered. In addition, a company may have multiple levels of IVR which are not linked together resulting in inconsistent decision options
  • When one reaches a live person, based on the IVR selection, one may get a hyper-focused CSR (Customer Service Rep) who is only trained in one area and must transfer if the caller’s issue is not an exact match.
  • Movement away from personalization. How many letters have you received that are signed “this department” or “that department” without a name, and any telephone number provided is a generic corporate number and not a number specific to that department?

These are not usually issues that a smaller company would see. Often at these companies, customer calls are answered live or with minimal routing. The CSRs are knowledgeable about the entire corporation’s services and can address questions without needing to transfer callers. Written communication will often have a name on signed letters.

So, the obvious question is: can a service company, as it becomes larger, change and scale its customer service organization without losing the aspects that helped it grow in the first place – namely a good service, with good customer service? What are your thoughts? Can it be done? If so, how?  Share your thoughts on comments section of the LinkedIn version of this post!

Posted in Tom's Posts.