It’s a bright Monday morning as I log into Zoom for a meeting with Clarity’s Customer Service Manager, Annette Ritson. As lead consultant on the new summer blockbuster, The end of travel as we know it - the first feature film of the new Clarity Studios, she is understandably excited about the launch.
Ritson, a lifelong fan of Elvis, exudes his same confidence when she speaks, something you would expect from someone with the kind of customer service pedigree that she has, with over 26 years in the service industry. After the usual pleasantries, we get down to business.
Interviewer: I suppose my first question is simply, what is customer service?
Annette Ritson: For me, don’t overcomplicate it.
Give the customer what they need in an efficient, professional and friendly manner. Quality of service is something all businesses should pride themselves on. For example, Clarity wouldn’t exist without our customers, and as a customer-centric business we ensure our customer service is at the core of everything we do.
Interviewer: What does it start with?
AR: It has to start with the employees.
AR: By having staff who are empowered, engaged, and feel valued, it reflects in the service they provide. They’ll go the extra mile and apply discretionary effort, which, ultimately, results in happy customers. Richard Branson’s famous quote rings true “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
Interviewer: But how do you do that?
AR: It’s important that everyone understands their purpose. The impact their role plays in the success of the business, from both a personal and professional view. It’s not just ‘front-line’ staff who are responsible for customer service, we are all accountable to ensure every customer experience’s great service. It’s about having the right culture in place.
Interviewer: Why is culture important?
AR: Culture is the most important piece when putting together the engagement puzzle. Without a strong culture, you end up with a group of people all pulling in different directions. For example, at Clarity we have a service focused culture which is driven by our values - listen, adapt, and deliver.
Interviewer: Aren’t values just company buzzwords?
AR: In some companies, they can be. It’s easy to pick out a bunch of buzzwords that we think should describe our people. Professional, creative, compassionate, et al. At Clarity, we have the belief that we all need to live and breathe our values. They are behaviours that we must undertake during every single interaction with our customers, and each other.
We listen to hear, we adapt to improve, and we deliver on promises and to exceed expectations. It has to be that simple for people to get behind it. We found that any more than that, and you’re making them less instinctive and more directive.
Interview: Let’s talk about the new film, The end of travel as we know it. What’s the premise?
AR: The end of travel as we know it focuses on the last 15 months and how the industry has changed as a result of the pandemic. Within that, the film also looks at customer service and how service has had to adapt to the new ways that people engage with companies.
For a little over a year, people weren’t able to make face to face purchases, and instead companies needed to build a rapport with their customers on the phone or online. All this while working remotely and being isolated from their teams.
Ultimately, it’s a cautionary tale, but one that drives home a message that while it may be the end of travel, and to an extent customer service, as we know it, it’s also an incredible opportunity for businesses to reconnect with their customers and build stronger relationships going forward.
The end of travel as we know it releases on June 1, 2021, not in a cinema near you. For more information, please visit claritybt.com/clarity-studios