Say hello to John, Skye, Alex and Sarah...our busy and productive customer service team who answer your phone calls, emails and live chat messages. They’re a friendly bunch who really do their best to offer customers the very best support they can. They’re understanding, helpful, reliable...and above all honest!
(Pictured from left to right - John, Skye, Alex and Sarah)
Kiravans strongly believe that customer service is an attitude...not just a robotic department! It is key for the Kiravans business to offer one to one support and advice and always do our best...whatever it takes.
Prior to September 2019 we had always outsourced calls through a call handling company...they picked up the vast majority of phone calls for us. But recently, we decided it was the best solution for Kiravans to bring calls back in house, mainly because our product knowledge is second to none, and we can offer direct, first hand support and advice to our customers when they really need it.
Since we moved offices in November 2019, the entire team at Kiravans now sit together in one open plan space. This change has been really successful for us because all departments are now integrated and it allows for easier communication and collaboration among employees. We’re always sharing ideas and learning so much from one another!
Long standing followers of Kiravans will know that we used to blow our own trumpet about the fact that we did outsource much of our operations to third party providers. So, what has changed?
If we wind the clock back to 8 or 9 years ago, Kiravans was a very different place. Rob and Mike were working on their own...running the website, buying stock, packing orders in a 40 foot shipping container, whilst also attempting to answer customer’s phone calls and emails. The pair found that it was just not possible to do it all, so a plan was hatched to get a call answering service to answer the phones and simply say to each and every caller “ah, now the person you need to speak to is out of the office just now, can I take a message and get them to call you back?”
It worked. Our customers didn't end up sitting on the phone for an age getting disgruntled and waiting for Rob to answer. This meant that Rob was able to ‘batch’ together all of his phone calls for the day, so at 3:00 he would sit down and phone everyone back, leaving the rest of the day clear to do other jobs. But that clearly was not very sustainable as the business grew...as we got busier and busier the guys felt the need to switch to a ‘full service’ customer service provider. Of course it was way more expensive, but all of a sudden the team answering phone calls were able to actually provide useful answer to callers - they could track deliveries, read answers off a list of FAQs, confirm stock availability, and over a period of time a few members of the call centre team became very knowledgeable about our range of campervan conversion parts and kits.
Even better, by using a call centre company we were able to handle peaks in call volumes with ease. Monday mornings we could have 5 or 6 people talking to customers without having to actually employ them for the full week.
Then things got difficult...
The call centre team had a high level of staff turnover, so unfortunately for Kiravans, all that technical knowledge that individuals had learnt was lost, and more and more calls were simply being put through to our inhouse customer support team for advice. So, inevitably, we were just annoying our customers along the way and it simply wasn’t working anymore.
A couple of years ago we recruited one, then two new members of our inhouse customer service team. Then last year we increased the customer support team to four! And, (drum roll please) finally we stopped using the third party call handling company.
It's funny how difficult it feels to make some decisions, and this was one of the more difficult ones. Our business grew really nicely with the help of our outsourced call handling team, but by late 2019 the time had definitely come to move on. Since the change-over to handling calls in our own office, we have seen massive benefits. We’ve even stopped using the word `call handling’. Instead we actually ‘speak to our customers’, which is beneficial all round.
From our end of the phone, it feels like we now have a much closer relationship with our customers. We all try really really hard to make sure that every call or email gets sorted for you in just one go. We all know the experience of speaking to someone in a call centre who is following a script...well, here at Kiravans we will definitely not be going back along that path. It's been really satisfying to hear long-term customers chatting with Skye, Alex, John and Sarah on the phone. Life has got a whole lot easier for everyone and the customer reviews we receive are always so positive about the service they receive with Kiravans...our reviews really do speak volumes and emphasise that we have made the right choice.
So, are there any downsides to doing customer service ourselves?
No, nothing important!
Yes, we had to employ a few more people... move into a bigger office...get a better phone system. But on the other hand, the business has really benefited because we have found and employed some fantastic, new staff and our customers are much happier.
Great customer service and customer satisfaction is essential for our business, so it was crucial that our services reflect this. Yes, it has taken us time and perseverance to make things work better for our customers as well as internally, but we’re confident we have now achieved this, and we’re always looking forward and thinking of ways in which we can be slicker, and continue to improve as the business grows and evolves.
Looking after customers, solving problems and giving advice is really what we all enjoy most about this business.
We always want to hear from our customers, so we invite you to leave your honest review on the Kiravans website, Google My Business or simply just give us a call on 0113 804 2125 or contact us directly.
Update: Our team has recently done a bit of shuffling around with their hours, so you’ll now find us here to help on live chat until 8:30pm Monday to Thursday. Sorry … no-one volunteered to do Friday evenings!! Understandable really. :-)