All this week, we’re discussing customer service. From what servicing our clients really means, to why providing an excellent customer experience is the role of every single individual here, not just our hard-working client facing teams.
As we enter the middle-part of Customer Week, we’ve taken a trip down memory lane with our Customer Manager, Catherine Jarrett.
Catherine embodies the very meaning of customer service. Not only has Catherine given Fletchers over 20-years-service, she has overseen enormous change and become a key player in the many positive initiatives created to ensure we place our clients at the centre of everything we do.
Q. Tell us about what customer service looked like when you first joined the company
When I first started at Fletchers in June 1999 as an office junior, it was a very typical high street solicitors, but what I loved about it was the family feel. Everyone genuinely supported each other and there was no airs and graces.
You could pop into Rob Fletcher’s room and have a chat anytime of the day. I always remember this, as Rob treated everyone equal to him and this was evident in how he spoke to his internal customers (the team) and our external customers.
We understood that we are all customers of each other, supporting each other and that’s how I believe how excellent customer service starts. It begins internally and having that awareness has always extended externally to our customers.
Q. In your time here, how has customer communication changed?
We didn’t have the internet, email, mobile phones were very rarely used. Correspondence was by attendance at the office, by post and phone calls.
The length of time in settling a case took longer, as we sometimes struggled to get instructions from a customer. For example, there may only be the one telephone number, and then there was waiting for post to be returned with their instructions.
It was very rare that a call wasn’t answered or returned as it was key to progressing the cases. The team knew this.
The biggest change I would say has been the internet and the pace of life we have now.
Everyone wants a response to their email and call now, it’s how society has changed. We expect it from every company we use, and Fletchers are no exception.
We have changed with the times. We have customers nationwide and being able to use technology has given us the ability to communicate quickly with our customers and get their instructions fast.
Q. Who are your customer service influencers?
Shep Hyken is a fantastic motivational customer service speaker. He has so many videos on YouTube that cover all areas of customer service.
Some of the best videos he does are the customer service tips you can take from Disney.
In my eyes, Disney are one of the best providers of customer service in the world and I love reading how they deliver customer service. We can learn a lot from customer-focussed enterprises, such as Disney, and how they recognise their employees.
Q. What would your advice be to respond to an irate customer, or a customer who feels they aren’t being listened to?
I would ask them to write down what they want to say and how they are feeling.
When we are irate, or feeling like we aren’t being listened to, we don’t always come across the way we want to. I have done it myself in the past.
I have become so frustrated on a call with a company, although I know it isn’t the call handler’s fault, I don’t express clearly what I need or what the issue is.
Emailing allows you to ensure everything you want to ask or need to know is there, and then you can get the answers to hopefully help resolve the issue.
Alternatively, if we can identify the customer is getting frustrated by email and doesn’t understand what we are asking, I would always recommend picking up the phone and having a chat.
Sometimes emails can come across in the wrong tone and being able to recognise that and understand our customers is key to helping to address any issues.
Q. As Customer Manager, what makes you proud
Starting the Customer Team makes me so proud.
When I started the team, I was told that we were to be an independent voice of the customer and we could challenge anything we felt wasn’t putting the customer at the heart of everything we do as a company.
As a result of the Customer Team, one of our core values is now the customer and my team is made up of two of the best customer service providers I have ever worked with.
At first, it was difficult coming up against very experienced solicitors who had dealt with customers for years. There was arguably a more formal approach, as we didn’t want our clients to feel we were challenging what they were saying or doing.
Today, the Customer Team has been allowed to show an insight into how the customer thinks and what the customer expects.
One thing I am continually pushing is that I know that legal jargon is difficult for customers to understand.
Being from a non-legal background, I will always ask a senior member of the team to put a response into non legal jargon. It’s a running joke with some senior members of the team at Fletchers that if I get any legal emails, I will send them back with a ‘?’.
However, this is for them to appreciate that I, as their customer, do not understand what is being asked or what is being said.
Finally, what I am most proud about is that the Customer Team is now recognised within Fletchers. We are a team who will endeavour to fight for the customer and continually support the legal teams with obtaining positive comments from our customers.
This is also to show our expert legal professionals how much the work they do has had an impact on our customers.
Whilst it is early days for the Customer Team, I am so proud that Fletchers allows me to be the independent voice of the customer. The business provides me and my team the support we need to provide truly excellent customer service.
Q. Why does customer service matter?
You will always remember that one person who listened to you and went the extra mile.
Feeling like someone cares and that you are not just a number is something I am passionate about.
I love Fletchers, I am so proud to work here. I want our customers to think of Fletchers like I think of Fletchers. To think that we are a family, a team, and we will always support each other.
We can all be quick to post negative reviews and complain when we have had a negative experience, but we don’t always recognise those who provide exceptional service.
I always make a point of emailing or Tweeting a company if I have received excellent service from one of their employees, as I know first-hand it can make someone’s day knowing they have helped.
So, there you have it! Customer service is one of the defining hallmarks of any business, and we’re no exception.
Catherine has experienced customer communication pre-internet and knows what matters to our customers.
By actively listening, and encouraging others to do the same, you’ll be amazed at the breakthrough your own business or team can make when next speaking with your customer base.