May I put you on hold?

Stephanie Gehman Marketing Manager, Harrisburg International Airport

Posted on January 26th 2012

May I put you on hold?

"Wait. What? You're putting me on hold for a third time so you can connect me with your shift leader's supervisor's manager? I just needed to know one simple thing about my account..."

Sound familiar? All too familiar. Too often customers pick up the phone to find an answer to a question and don't receive a hint of customer service from the other end of the line.  Customers start with the pretense that the entity they patron cares about them and is in the business of customer service. So why are some companies destroying that expectation for their customers? The short answer is that customer service has fallen off the corporate radar as a priority training item and expectation of employees.

The solution? It starts during the interviewing and hiring process - finding the right people with depth of character and a sense of empathy. Employees can be trained in technical skills, but personality is inherent. To paraphrase author Jim Collins from his book Good to Great, get the right people in the right seat on the bus and get the wrong ones off.

Front-line employees, the ones answering the phones and interfacing with customers, often are the first glimpse customers have of your business. That representation is key. If apathetic, disinterested and under invested representatives are answering your phones, manning your cash registers, or responding on social media - you're in for a wake-up call. Your customers won't carry on a long-standing relationship with you. They'll move on and find a company that does care about them.

How does this apply in social customer service?  Choose someone to plan, oversee and implement your social media that exemplifies customer service and has the authority to take action on a customer's behalf.  If the person on your staff monitoring the social channels doesn't have authority to act, then at least be certain that he/she has direct access to the people in the business who can.   

This doesn't mean that you set unrealistic expectations that your company cannot meet just to retain customers.  What is does mean is don't intentionally delay, aggravate or negate your customers and their needs - no matter how small that need may be.  Customer service ties into personality and desire - hire the people that want to help your business and your customers be successful and valued.

Stephanie Gehman

Marketing Manager, Harrisburg International Airport

A vetted Marketing Manager with a passion for building relationships and brands through traditional and emerging means.
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Posted on January 26th 2012 at 11:50PM

absolutely true.


a former colleague of mine moved from decades in front line call-centre based customer service and support to management of setting up such services for external customers. her phone mannerisms and customer service insights always amaze me when we discuss this area or I get to hear her in action. 


"they didn't even ask me what my question was before grilling me for my name, account #, location, etc"


good service starts with many simple and seemingly trivial steps that ANY company can implement without additional cost. getting the right people requires good management of the human resources. unfortuneately, many companies seem content to accept IVR (the dreaded automated answer and direct system) as being capable of providing good customer support over the phone. this is not the case (technology is a tool, not the solution). my favourite example is the local phone company that ALWAYS responds to my calls with, "we are experiencing higher than average call volume" and then proceeds to put me on hold. you don't need to be a math geek to understand that if something is always one way, it cannot also be higher than the average.


customers figure you out very quickly, or worse, begin with cynical expectations... and they have long memories. why give them incentive to look for other options to satisfy their needs?

Posted on January 27th 2012 at 12:03AM

I really like the connection you pointed out with social media & effective customer service. Good article.