Banksy’s Dismal View on Customer Service

This week saw the closure of British street artist Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition at Weston-super-Mare in the southwest of England. Banksy parodied the DisneyWorld theme parks with his vision of a miserable theme park filled with art from over 50 collaborators. One thing I really noticed at Dismaland was that several works in this collection of the dismal commented on customer services, such as the sign reading “Customer Service Desk Closed 24 Hours.”

Contact centres and the quality of customer service offered by some companies has long been good material for stand-up comics, so it’s no surprise to see artists also taking aim at complex IVRs and long waits for help from an agent.

The reality that I see is very different though. The companies I am working with offer support to their customers across many different channels at any time of the day or night and there are no fixed scripts or automatons – just really knowledgeable agents with the freedom to do what it takes to help the customer.

But, I know that the media features bad news above good. Who would want to read endless good news anyway? We all tend to prefer disaster or rumours, because it is more interesting to talk about. 

The attitude of the artists and comics to customer service centres is exactly the same. A comedian would not walk out on stage and talk about the fantastic help they received earlier in the day. What gets a laugh is talking about the agent with an undecipherable accent or the menu system that leads them to spend 30 minutes just selecting their problem.

And I’m laughing as I think of this too. I can remember seeing some comedians doing routines like this and it is funny because it is a shared experience. Everyone has had an awful customer service experience, but my question is really, has one of those awful experiences been in the recent past?

Managing the customer experience is so complex today that it requires specialist companies with global experience of how to manage customers across multiple channels. In a recent Deloitte study 93% of managers said that the experience the customer has with a brand is the primary or secondary reason why they stay loyal to that company. If you don’t treat your customers well today then nine out of ten will not stay with you.

This elevation of the customer service team to be at the forefront of customer loyalty strategies has led to some fantastic career opportunities too. People can get into this business today as an agent and move into various other areas that are now connected to customer service, such as marketing and sales.

So Banksy’s criticism can be taken lightly with a smile, but it’s not the reality of the customer service business today.

What do you think we can do to highlight just how much the industry has changed? Leave some ideas here or get in touch with me directly via my LinkedIn.

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