May 2015 Newsletter

I Won’t Order from that Company Again!

(Why Your Business Should Give Consistent Customer Service and Four Tips to Help You Do It)

The customer service department was closed.

That’s right, closed, according to the recorded phone message of this national company. Well within normal business hours, I had called because I was hunting for a home-party company representative who had mysteriously disappeared along with the ordered-and-paid-for lids for my juice containers.

Considering the other “contact us” methods given on the company’s website, I went back online to attempt the “chat” option. But you know what? I got the same message. No one was available to “chat.”

That left the third and final option: to send an email. I did and four days later I received a response with directions to call customer service.

Uh oh, that could be a problem.

But what choice did I have? And so, since the email response gave me no phone number, I went back online to determine what number to call.

You can understand that by now I was getting frustrated. I figured I had fallen into a customer service loop that I’d never escape.

Fortunately, this time someone answered the phone and after 35 minutes — yes, 35 minutes and many “will-you-hold-a-second-while-I-check-this-outs” — I finally received a promise that my lids “would be sent and delivered in 6-8 business days.”

Unfortunately, there’s much more to this customer service horror story — a customer service representative who didn’t seem to listen, didn’t quite “get it,” and obviously was not empowered to help me without his manager’s input — but I’ll spare you the details.

Let me simply say that some things — some very important things — aren’t right with this company’s customer service.

It’s not the quality of their product. Their reputation for quality products is superb.

But good customer service is much more than quality products.

Good customer service comes from making serving customers well a top company priority — at the very least, having customer service personnel available during business hours every day, for example. And available for online “chats” 24/7, or at least during business hours in the company’s time zone.

Above all, it comes from smart, happy, caring, motivated employees.

Smart enough to put a phone number in an email directing a customer to call the company’s customer service department.

Caring enough to listen attentively to a customer’s dilemma.

Motivated enough to understand what needs to be done and then to do it quickly.

Your employees are your business to your customers, and how they relate to customers can make or break your business. Customer service experts tell us that it takes 12 positive interactions to undo a bad impression left by an employee. 

In this case, do you think I’ll ever go back to this company? Not likely. And do you think I’d recommend this company to friends? Again, unlikely. To the contrary, here I am using it as an example of what not to do.

Is your customer service as good as it needs to be? Are your employees satisfying your customers? Here are four quick tips you can use to help your employees improve your customer service:

• Establish “customer friendly” policies
To begin — This is top of mind for me right now! — make sure someone’s available to answer your customer’s questions. If you do business online, that means 24/7 availability. If that’s impossible, at least be available during business hours in your time zone.

Additionally establish “customer friendly” policies — policies that show concern for your customers. Then, before giving your employees authority to make tough decisions on the fly and when you are not present, make sure they know and understand these customer service guidelines so they at least have a baseline from which to work.

• Hire good people
Make sure you recruit employees who will serve your customers well. Look for employees who are:
 

  1. enthusiastic
  2. friendly and outgoing
  3. intelligent
  4. empathetic
  5. good at problem solving


With these characteristics, your customer service people should have no problem understanding situations and making decisions that keep your customers happy.

Empower your employees
Little hurts customer service more than employees with no authority to help customers when issues arise. Empowering employees isn’t simple. It requires committing to continuous employee development and fostering an environment of trust. Although how to empower employees is an article topic by itself, here are several thoughts:

• Provide customer service training
Invest in ongoing training that focuses on customer service and includes role playing scenarios of all types of customer interactions. Make sure your employees know how to handle worst-case scenarios.

Here’s the bottom line. Whether you run a restaurant, a retail outlet or an online business, your employees can make or break your customers’ experiences. Just one disengaged employee can give your entire company a bad name.

But with a culture where everyone from the top down becomes obsessed with what the customer wants and knows how to deliver it, your customers will sit up and take notice, tell their friends and keep coming back. 


Your Solution Toolbox: This Ultra-Easy-to-Use Assessment Helps Guarantee Job and Culture Fit


In my experience, not many companies pay nearly enough attention to customer service. Their employees routinely fail to:

And this list doesn’t even begin to address what these employees do — or don’t do — when a customer is unhappy.

If you value customer loyalty, you need employees who understand how to serve the people who come through your door or to your online business.

Profile International’s Customer Service Profile™ measures how well a person fits specific customer service jobs in your organization. You can use it for hiring, on-boarding and managing customer service employees. Further you can select from a general industry version of this assessment or from four vertical specialties: hospitality, healthcare, financial services and retail.

HR Consulting
Call me, too, if you are looking for professional assistance with your personnel questions. We’ll help you learn how to:

Let's Talk! We offer a no-obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures and practices. This may help determine what's missing in your current programs. Again, call 952-322-3330 or send an email to mgorski@mgassessments.com.



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