It’s a common gripe that customer service values are not what they used to be. Here’s how to stay ahead of the game.
February 9th, 2017
I challenge you to find a company that does not feel obliged to avow their dedication to ensuring their customers are happy. In fact, I challenge you to find a company that does not extoll their own unique approach to providing an unimpeachable degree of service to their clients.
But I also challenge you to recall all those hundreds of times where – and here you have to be honest – as customers, you have been let down. Irrespective of the extent a company self-aggrandises (and they all do!), you have been let down by those very same companies, time and time again.
So, here’s a question I cannot believe somebody hasn’t asked yet…
But what exactly is ‘customer service’?
By way of a brief definition, customer service is the interaction between seller and buyer regarding a purchase. Boring! What we should be asking is what makes such a ‘basic interaction’ either ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Factors such as attitude, response time, and presentation of the products or service on offer – all factor in.
But even that’s still pretty vague. I’ll level with you: it’s not exactly the easiest thing to define. In a way, judging the degree of excellence in your service model is a game of comparison. As such, I want to present an exemplar customer service approach as benchmark: Krost. An innovative workplace design and furniture company which claims to offer the complete workplace solution for any office, Krost prides itself on providing a level of surface matching the quality its products.
Perhaps the best point in Krost’s favour is the fact that they are there at the beginning, middle and end of a client’s workspace design project. Rather than just another subcontractor the client (and those oft-misunderstood poor project manager) grapples with, Team Krost’s approach to service delivery is holistic. Entering the project as a planning partner – and not simply a merely passive supplier of the contracted items – the number of hats they wear is staggeringly numerous. From co-ordination, dispatch, delivery and installation, the Krost approach enables those fears of stress and tight-squeeze deadlines to become a very, very distant memory.
While some think it is a little ‘old hat’, I have to say that never has it been more necessary to bring ‘keep it simple stupid’ back into our approach to customer service. The team at Krost understand that in the effort to achieve ‘simplicity’ you need to start small. In fact, they pride themselves on a keen responsiveness to clients’ very simple expectations: a single, streamlined point of contact for reliable and constant communication takes their portfolio of clients from the initial design process all the way through to the final day of installation. Affording a heightened degree of flexibility and ease, this singular communication model works alongside the proximity of Krost’s facilities that work in negotiation with their centralised showroom.
Here the full range of Krost’s products are available to touch, use, and test in any way that will satisfy a planner’s immediate questions or concerns. A variety of spaces are available to arrange products in a way that really help visualize how well they will facilitate productive workflow in an office space. For instance, do those discrete, classily high-backed Hush sofas provide enough audio-visual privacy from the informal team chat going on among the comfy Gogo seats and ergonomic Balance stools nearby? What arrangement of workstations would fit the number of people required while freeing up the rest of the space for other tasks? These and any other questions can be answered in the showroom’s design studio and materials library, where members of Krost’s sales team – all experts in office furniture – are on hand to show off the range of environmentally sustainable fabrics, melamine and veneer finishes.
It’s a shame the extent to which any companies believe that our inner workings and processes need be kept spinelessly out of view from our clients. While we continue to throw around jargon like ‘relationship’ and ‘collaboration’, keeping internal processes well out of our clients’ access has lead many companies down the path of hypocrisy.
Krost eschews the idea that their inner workings should be kept private from their clients. Instead, each client has full visibility into the offices, manufacturing locations and showroom activities at Krost, allowing a 360-degree holistic view of the whole design process. This means that for each of Krost’s clients, direct access is not only allowed but actively encouraged at any and every point of the design process from manufacturing to testing and fine-tuning specific prototypes to using and experimenting with unique breakout spaces. Any concerns about quality or suitability can be aired and set to rest without a delay in lead times – of which, as a final feather in their cap, Krost boasts some of the best in our local industry for projects of all sizes.
With values that fit perfectly with many companies’ desire to use products that are environmentally conscious and ergonomically sound, it’s easy to see why the Krost customer service experience is so intimately entwined with their core brand values. One of these, employee wellbeing, is addressed through their focus on ergonomic seating and activity-based workplace design, allows workers to move comfortably within their working environment and avoid harmful habits and activities. Krost’s environmental policy ensures that environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes are the norm; furniture cannot only be reused but recycled.
After all, in their own words: “[w]e believe changing your behaviour matters both on the micro and macro scales, and a true commitment to both is what keeps our customers happy.”
INDESIGN is on instagram
The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed
This year CSM is celebrating a significant milestone with 65 years in the business of providing integrated office storage solutions for clients nationwide. We talked to CSM about their journey from humble beginnings working in steel to how they became pioneers in customisable storage design.