Customer Service

customer serviceCustomer service is important to me, both as a service provider and as a consumer. I value good customer service and aim to offer the same to my clients. Great customer service makes a big impression on me and my spending habits. This post is about my personal beliefs and not meant to be a how-to guide. So your milage may vary.

What is Good Customer Service?
Authentic concern for your customer and what they need.

What it comes down to for me is a personal interaction. A genuine interest in helping someone purchase what they require. Yes there are metrics to gauge customer experience and I’ve been through several training programs.

Scripts, surveys, techniques, body language, psychology, etc, make good statistics for comparative data. But the face-to-face human interaction can’t be faked. I’m either talking with a human or a robot.

service with a smileHonesty
SPIFs, bonuses, etc, aren’t there to help the customer. They’re designed to motivate and drive sales of specific items. While I understand some businesses do this to move boxes I don’t see any place in my profession for such incentives.

Politeness doesn’t cost anything. Being abrupt and rude will costs sales. We all have bad days, we are human after all! Recognise those times and work around them.

Negotiating and bargaining is not a cultural thing, it’s just business. Being respectful and understanding goes a long way to create an agreement where both parties are happy and continue to work together in the future.

Typically we associate quality with price. If a customer is shopping on price, which is a legitimate motivator, then don’t write them off. There’s a saying, “Price, Quality, Time: pick any two.” If I can’t meet someone’s budget or I’m booked up I endeavour to help them out. With a large network to draw on I will recommend a colleague or an alternative. The bottom line here is I will try to help whether or not it’s going to lead to a booking.

retail shopGood Experiences
What prompted me writing this is lately I’ve had to use after sales service with widely different experiences. I will continue to use Apple and well, here I am “singing their praises” because of their very friendly, blameless customer service. I happily pay more for this level of service and as a technology influencer recommend their products to others.

Another tech company who I won’t name and shame made me jump through hoops for a failed hard drive warranty repair. Tens of hours spent wasted with online chats, emails, phone calls, in store and despatching has left a sour taste for their brand. I will never buy or recommend any of their electronic goods because of inconsistent, poor customer service.

From these experiences I ask myself how can I use what I learned from these two competing companies to offer better customer service for my clients. The takeaway is: admit when there’s a problem, apologise, offer a fix ASAP, and then deliver on that promise. Naturally that’s just the right thing to do.

Room For Improvement
Whenever possible I let a business owner know when I’ve had a really good customer experience – especially for the sake of the employee. Far from perfect I’m always learning and striving to improve customer service. If you’re a client of mine I welcome your feedback, good or bad, on how I can improve your experience.