Paul Wijsen on the power of good customer service
About Paul Wijsen
Paul has more than 25 years of experience as a manager in the customer service profession, of which 10 years as Contact Center Manager at Landal GreenParks. He now shares his knowledge and passion with large and smaller organizations on a part-time basis. Two years ago Paul and his wife moved from Amsterdam to a beautiful place in Heiloo.
Paul: ‘At the age of 21, I accidentally rolled into the customer service world. The first personal computers were then introduced to the workplace. You can omit the word ”personal” here because each department got one PC, haha.
And where we first talked about punch cards and reading in forms, we now talk about terms such as real time and artificial intelligence. In 40 years, so much has changed, especially on a technical level and the way customers approach organizations. All these years I have been able to move and grow with the field. Now I’ve reached 60+ and I choose not to pursue a career anymore. I no longer want to work as a director or manager, but purely share my knowledge with organizations that want to improve their customer service.’
No beauty prize for the technology, but for customer focus
‘At Landal GreenParks, we worked with outdated systems in my early days. I am talking about about twelve years ago. There were a lot of lists going around, including callback lists. In terms of technology, it did not deserve a beauty prize, but it did deserve in customer-oriented thinking and doing. Everyone within the organization, from management to the animation team, had to be in the competition in the same way. Let the green blood flow. If we said to customers ”we will call you back within this time slot”, we would also call back. No one went home until the last customer was called back. We sent up to 1,000 emails a day across dozens of inboxes. If a problem needed to be solved for a client, you put someone to work for 3 hours to fish up old emails. At that time, there were few or no systems available that could make this easier.’
‘Looking back on my career in the customer service profession, I missed a system that could really be used omnichannel.’
The lack of an omnichannel customer service system
‘Looking back on my career in the customer service profession, I missed a system that could really be used omnichannel. By this I mean a system that allows you to form a 360-degree customer view. I want to be able to find everything in it. Every expression to and from a (potential) customer or ‘complainant’ must be approachable, dialable and analysed. Whether that was three years or a few seconds ago. I’m not going to think of it myself anymore, that’s what you’re here for now. What I know for sure is that with digitization you can achieve a lot of efficiency. Many repeating customer contact moments can be handled digitally with, for example, a conversational chatbot.
Can you name a company with a well-functioning chatbot? I haven’t yet. People in our field see it as a sport to test whether a chatbot crashes after about three questions. Chatbots undoubtedly offer opportunities, but that depends on the complexity of your product or service and the way in which you approach such a project in your organization.
No longer reachable by phone
‘Around me, I see that more and more organisations are choosing to stop customers from coming into personal contact with an employee. If you have searched for information, does personal contact with an organization do wonders, right? Then you have to get to speak to someone with conversation skills; someone who understands the art of understanding you as a customer.
I think you have to look at it on a case-by-case basis when it comes to automating customer contact. Does it fit within the industry or the nature of the business and what does telephone contact add to that?’
‘Which organisation dares to say with dry eyes; the customer is always number one with us?’
Marketing and sales over customer service
‘When it comes to budgets, marketing and sales are often put above customer service, at least that’s what I think. Budgets are spent on campaigns for winning new customers. While the service you provide to your customers determines how the customer feels about your organization. Which company dares to say with dry eyes ”the customer is always number one with us”? During my career at Landal GreenParks, the guest was number one. The opinion of guests was expressed in KPIs and these were leading in all meetings. I sometimes ask myself now; what if Landal GreenParks had achieved less turnover, would we have been given less room to focus on customer satisfaction? Fortunately, I never sat in that position and we achieved good results. Even though I had to re-request budgets three or four times to improve our customer service. A matter of perseverance and persuasion. In the end, everyone understood the importance of good customer service.’