At HARMAN, we strive to design exceptional products and solutions that enrich life’s experiences, simplify the way people interact with technology, and help them stay connected in a fast-changing world. We also understand that the user’s experience goes far beyond the technology – to how the product is marketed, sold and serviced. Behind providing 'good value for the price, providing ‘excellent customer service' is the second most important factor consumers consider when choosing a company with which to do business. We sat down with Vu Le, HARMAN’s Supervisor of Customer Support, to discuss how the company is working hard to ensure that it’s customer support lives up to the high expectations of discerning consumers.
Q: Let’s start off with a little history about yourself – how did you come to HARMAN? How long have you worked here?
A: I have been with HARMAN for 17 years, starting out as a Technical Support Operator. In the early years, the department was very small, and mainly focused on support for computer speakers. The department really took off and expanded when HARMAN started producing speakers for iPods and similar devices. We were one of the first, of course! We had to develop brand new customer support documents, FAQs, update the eCommerce site, and more. It was a turning point for the Customer Service teams at HARMAN.
Q: How has HARMAN’s Customer Service department evolved over your time here?
A: Essentially, the department has evolved at the same pace as our products. The market landscape continues to change rapidly, and high-tech products are developed and released at a faster pace than ever before. The standards and quality of customer service needs to advance in lockstep to ensure consumers always receive the best possible experience. We need deep expertise and we also need geographic coverage across cultures and time zones because we’ve grown so much outside of the US to India, China, Russia and other countries.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role? What are some of your proudest moments?
A: The challenge for anyone in customer support is making sure each individual customer feels understood and receives a seamless experience – whether it’s a simple question about a product’s feature or a more complex problem about a defective electronic. We always strive to exceed expectations.
My proudest moments include those times when we show our customers that we truly care about them and making sure they have a positive experience. We always put ourselves in the customer’s shoes to better understand their question or issue.
Q: What’s something you wish the average customer knew about the hard work you and your team do behind the scenes in order to make sure they have the perfect HARMAN experience?
A: Customers should know that we are always working diligently to ensure their issue is being resolved properly and in a time efficient manner. Sometimes, it might seem like the process is taking longer than necessary, but there are several steps to go through behind the scenes. We are the customers’ true advocates. If there is any way we can expedite a resolution, such as creating a customer profile and storing information about their case, we make sure to do so in order to make the experience as convenient as possible.
Q: What kind of strategies does the Customer Service team use to “keep up with our customers”, so to speak? With more people reaching out via social media, traditional strategies have transformed. How do online reviews fit into the customer experience?
A: Social media has definitely played a big role in the evolution of customer service as a whole, and most of our feedback now comes via social channels like Facebook and Twitter. When we interact with our consumers on social media, to help them solve any issues or learn more about a product, it helps us build and strengthen our relationships.
We take customer reviews very seriously. We ask ourselves several questions – why does the customer feel this way? How can this situation be improved? How can we improve our current and future products to avoid this issue from the start? We use the feedback in a meaningful way to improve our products, service, and business strategy. In some cases, customers have complained about products that they thought were our but weren’t or even counterfeit products. We still try to help.
Q: What tips might you have for someone starting off in a customer-focused career? How can they deliver excellent service every time?
A: It is important to be passionate about helping others. Whether it’s a customer or a coworker, they are depending on you to help them solve a problem! Excellent communication is also key. Each customer service inquiry involves multiple conversations, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that the customer’s message is being accurately relayed to the technician in IT support, or the quality control tech, and vice versa.
Q: What are some essential components of a winning customer experience?
A: What constitutes a winning customer experience may actually differ from person to person. Typically, efficiency is crucial, in addition to a polite and understanding tone. We always aim for a highly personalized level of service. We don’t require our agents to stick to pre-scripted answers, so each conversation is tailored to an individual customer and their personal experience. Making sure that each customer feels understood and valued is a top priority.
At the end of the day, we just want to provide a first-class experience for everyone. We’re never resting, always looking for new ways to improve our process to deliver superior customer support.
Great products rely on great customer service teams. The dedication of our Customer Service team is a testament to HARMAN’s commitment to developing leading edge products and solutions that make life more connected, entertaining, personalized, and productive.