One-Size-Fits-All: Good for Socks, Bad for Customer Service

My mom raised 4 girls. When we weren’t old enough to do our own laundry, I know it would’ve been a dream for her to have 1 type of sock that fit each of us perfectly so that she wouldn’t have to spend the time and energy sorting through mass piles of socks trying to find the exact match. In the world of socks, one-size-fits-all is appropriate and convenient. In the world of customer service, it’s bad.

Bristlecone Holdings operates in a highly regulated industry, consumer finance. With regulation come restrictions; with restrictions comes lack of innovation and a stale transactional approach to service. Operating in an industry that is highly regulated is challenging, especially in customer service. However, it leaves a plethora of opportunity for companies to enter the industry to delight customers.

“It depends…”

I recently took a trip to San Diego with our customer service lead (his name is Nick, he’s rad) to visit one of our service providers. We were at the end of our training session and we were fielding questions from the audience. Question after question came rolling in in regards to how we handle specific scenarios with our customers. Almost every one of Nick’s responses began with, “Well, it depends…” It depends! It depends who is the customer, what is their situation, what has their experience been like, what concerns do they have, and what outcome(s) are they seeking. It. Depends.

Be relational. Not transactional.

We have plenty of rules and regulations we must abide by, but that is no reason to ever let service go by the wayside. In customer service, many of our engagements with our customers will close with a handful of resolutions that have been carefully crafted and researched. However, the path to getting to each of these resolutions is never the same, because every single customer is unique. We are training our team to listen to every single experience and relate to every single customer. Be relational with your service, not transactional. Be aware, it takes a lot of resources to enforce this approach. But, the companies that are choosing to pour resources into this aspect of their business are making the right decision in taking care of their customers. Your customers’ opinion of your business today will affect if your doors are open months or years from now. Make it count.

Transactional approaches to customer service typically are a result of blanket customer service policies where representatives are trained to behave like robots. Who doesn’t like talking to a robot? Everyone. In a world of tight regulations and consumer protection laws, I would highly encourage companies to not be lazy and think outside of the box. Regardless of what industry you are in, regulated or not, the days of creating a one-size-fits-all approach to customer service is dead. Each customer is unique; they all want and need to be treated as individuals.

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