Resurrecting Customer Service

A friend of mine overheard a conversation in the lobby of a local business recently. A man was asking about the delivery of a requested product and the receptionist, the chief of first impressions, was less than understanding.

“We don’t even know what your house looks like,” the receptionist said. The defensiveness in the tone of the receptionist caused the customer to raise his voice. Luckily, a supervisor also overheard the conversation and quickly moved in to resolve things.

I wish I could say this wasn’t the norm. But unfortunately, it is all too normal in countless companies. Customer service appears to be dying.

The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case. With a little help, a company’s customer service can be stellar. Here are a few practical steps to improve customer service.

Make Customer ServiceĀ a priority

Many people are put into positions related to customer service, with absolutely no idea of its importance. If your company deals with the public in any way, shape or form, it is imperative you set the tone for customer service. Offer training. Hold people accountable. Reward good customer service.

Answer the phone in two rings or less

People hate to wait. In fact, they hate to wait for someone to answer the phone. With every unanswered ring, tension begins to mount.

While people generally prefer to talk to a human being, they will put up with a “machine” as opposed to waiting for someone to pick up after endless rings. A receptionist may be tied up and unable to answer, therefore an “auto attendant” should pick up.

One caveat: Make sure your phone system is easy to navigate, otherwise you have accomplished nothing.

Follow up

The old saying that you can’t please all the people all the time is very true. However, you can do your best to let people know you care. If there is a problem that cannot be solved on the spot, a good customer service person will follow up after a reasonable amount of time to make sure things were worked out. This process can even be automated via email, etc.

A mentor of mine once said, “People do not want to be treated fairly. They want to be treated special.” The essence of customer service is to make sure each customer feels special. Do that, and you will be way beyond the “norm.”