Meeting the needs of all existing and potential customers should be the primary goal of every customer service department. This requires an appreciation of the diversity of needs among the user population, regardless of people’s age, size, ability and disability. In recent decades, the voice of the general public has become more prominent and more influential. People are more confident to speak up when they have a complaint and information and communication technologies have made this increasingly easy. Direct pressure from consumer groups as well as direct engagement with their customers have encouraged many companies to evolve their design process and improve their customer services to accommodate a wider range of people.
Effective universal customer service emerges from clear policies and procedures. This should be backed up by training in the communication needs of all customers and ongoing evaluation of customers’ experiences with products and services. All these aspects are covered within these guidelines.
The value of good customer service, both to the customer and the supplier, should not be underestimated. In a survey of Irish digital television users carried out during the development of these guidelines, of the respondents who had a good experience when buying or ordering their current TV service, an overwhelming number of them stated that it was because of a good customer service experience. Similarly, most of those who had a bad experience stated that it was due to poor customer service. For these consumers in particular, customer service is a great differentiator and an important reason for choosing one supplier over another. Many of the guidelines here are illustrated by quotes from participants in the survey.
Sources of information used for the guidelines on universal customer service
As stated in the overall introduction to the guidelines, these recommendations are largely the result of a compilation and restructuring of information contained in existing resources. The key resources used for this section were:
- Department of Public Expenditure and
Reform, Quality Customer Service (QCS) Initiative
- National Disability Authority,
Guidelines for Purchasers of Disability Equality Training
- World Blind Union (WBU), International
User Requirements for Television Receiving Equipment
These and other customer services resources are referenced in the bibliography.