|Improving Customer Service
Issue # 21 of 70
By: Dr. John T. Self
Conventional wisdom says that customer service is extremely expensive. I have commented several times that it doesn't have to be expensive, but in some areas it does take money and resources. And a commitment to both quantity and quality of these resources can sometimes cost.
In this sense Quantity refers to having the right amount of staff. It is difficult to be taken seriously about a commitment to customer service when customers can't place orders or receive deliveries! As for Quality. . . it is considered bad form if your customer contact people can't answer questions or provide answers quickly to those they don't know.
Both staffing and training can only be dealt with through a commitment of money. No doubt about it. But there are intangibles that don't cost a dime that have tremendous impact on customer's perceptions.Attitude, caring, attentiveness, a sense of urgency and courtesy can all make a significant improvement in your level of customer service without sending you into bankruptcy.
I'm always impressed when these basics are covered with zest and attitude. The results are striking. Just the basics, mind you: "Yes, ma'am/sir". "I'll find out for you right now". "Not a problem, no trouble at all".
(The exception is my all time favorite annoying run-on sentence that is usually said without eye contact: "Haveanicedaybye" type of nonsense. WHO is the person who first invented "Have a nice day?" Is it not the most shallow, insincere phrase of the Twentieth Century?)
It is the seemingly mundane points which quite often are the most effective and significant points to good customer service. Take a hard look at your own staff, and remember it is often the correct EXECUTION of the commonplace that people most remember. Eye contact coupled with great attitude and a sincere greeting when interacting with customers can make all the difference in the world.
Wasn't it your Mother that said the two most powerful words were "please" and "thank you"? She was right. Listen to her and make sure your people are covering these basic rules.
Finally, conventional wisdom isn't always wrong. For example, conventional wisdom also says to "never beat a dead horse", for obvious reasons.When circumstances dictate that you must ride a dead horse, the best tactic is to get off and walk. However, in customer service, we often try other tactics with dead horses, including the following:
Don't let your customer service be a dead horse. Don't throw money into training and staffing without correcting the commonplace.
Text © Dr. John T. Self, 1997,1998. Part of the original Sideroad.