There's no one immune from receiving lousy customer service. I cringe at rudeness, robotic phone systems, and general incompetence, but I have learned the business world still marches on, and great customer service does exist. Companies that have figured out exemplary customer service aren't just about direct business to customer interactions, but instead have made CEOs approachable while creating innovative procedures and actions to benefit customers, and have pulled away from the mediocrity most of us try to avoid. Here are some of the lessons I have learned:
1. A certain amount of automation is enough. There always has to be a way to opt out of the robotic phone answering systems. Aren't there days when we just need to speak with a human?
2. Be prompt answering me when I have a problem with your company. Email is very convenient, but if I am annoyed by a product or service, I really want an answer before 24 hours. That's why I have to use the phone, but if I get caught up in a robotic system with no way out, I get even more frustrated.
3. I am the customer, and you keep the records because I pay you. When I call with a question about a product that you know I already own or a service you provide, I don't want to have to remember passwords. I forget them as quickly as I create them. I expect you to know the identification number on the equipment I lease from you. Why do I have to climb around dark cabinets to repeat it? You should have my customer account number already.
4. Work with me, and develop my trust. If you want me to spend a lot of money, I need to have fostered a relationship with you first. For instance, buying a home is the most expensive purchase I will ever make, and it's not just about writing a contract to buy a home. I want all the information you can show me to make me feel this is the right decision to make. For instance, tell me about the schools in the area, tell me about taxes and industry in the area; tell me everything about this new community I need to know.
5. Be enthusiastic about your product. I want you to make me feel you believe in the product or your company, and you're just not answering the phone or talking to me because you are just treading water waiting for payday.
6. Provide guidance and assistance for me when I ask you, but don't hover over me. I find salespeople following me around in a store to be really annoying, especially if I tell them up front that I am just browsing. If I need help, then I want to know someone is nearby. It's a fine line, but I think sales people should know the difference.
7. Sometimes I need online support. I really appreciate when I can find a telephone number predominantly displayed on a website. When I purchase a product or service online, and the phone number is convenient, it makes me think the company is completely transparent, and they want me to call if I have a question or problem.
8. Train your employees to be part of the company culture. I know it costs more money to train employees, but when I see employees living the philosophy of great customer service as if they were born with the talent, I am inspired and grateful to be doing business with such a stellar company.
9. Be aware of your competition, and ask my opinion. If your competition does it better, maybe it's time for a change. Ask your customers how you can deliver a better product, be more innovative, or provide better service. We know because your competition is knocking at our doors every day.
I want to be loyal to you if you deliver innovative products at competitive prices and deliver services to me with respect and proficiency.