Old school customer service never fades away

Anssi Lehmonen, Project Development Manager, Ruukki
Sep 12, 2017

What does good customer service mean to you? Is it a restaurant owner who warmly welcomes you to your favourite table? When a company accepts a return and gives you a full refund with no questions asked? Or is it being able to give a quick response to your matter in hand?

Today we use sophisticated technologies to learn a great deal about our customers. We track what they like, what they buy, how regularly they buy and how often we meet them etc. Despite all this new loads of data and the insights it can deliver, in my opinion and experience customers still appreciate “old school customer service”.

This summer we built ourselves an additional courtyard building for our summer house, and this project was a great example of old school service. The project included a couple of pain points: the cottage is located on an island without road connection, and the new building was designed by an architect so it was not from the standard catalogue.

Finally we found a local log wood producer which was flexible, motivated and didn’t start to argue about having our own drawings. After receiving the delivery, we started logging, and after two days of struggling we found out that the logs had been sawed wrongly.

We called the producer (and reached the right person right away), and she informed us that two guys would come within a couple of hours to check the situation. They arrived four hours after the call and checked the material and drawings and, without any complaints about non-professional logging blah blah…, admitted that an error had happened and proposed to us if they could assemble the rest of the building, free of charge. Our first reaction was “could you say that again?” This was true service to maintain customer satisfaction without starting to fill up claim documents and all the bureaucracy it could consist of.

Superb but simple customer service all in all! We were connected with the right person, an action plan was made instantly, and the solution was managed properly and very quickly. There was total turnaround from angry disappointment to total commitment and trust. I have already told this story to many of my friends. Word of mouth marketing here could have ended up differently ;).

I have discovered the same thing in my work: service acts that sound simple are really making a difference. Bringing samples by hand to an architect, calling back immediately when questions are asked, showing that you really care…

Have many companies lost customer intimacy?

Today’s customers want you to identify and offload service tasks that can be done better electronically than by hand. At these customer touchpoints, be sure to offer self-service as an option for your customers/stakeholders with for example apps, software, informative and inspiring websites… But! This can be a magnet for a huge mistake. Once you’ve saved resources by automating tasks and services, it’s tempting to pocket the savings and call it a day. But improving automated customer service is no excuse to offer lousy human-powered service. Instead, take the resources saved by digitalization and focus them on meaningful human interaction.

The world is always changing and new possibilities will appear, but “old school customer service” will be the foundation to build on.

Anssi Lehmonen
Project Development Manager, Ruukki

Contact Anssi on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/anssi-lehmonen-a167b03
Email: firstname.lastname@ruukki.com

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