Improving Customer Service

Issue # 28 of 70 

John T. Self, Ph.D.
By: Dr. John T. Self

Time Tested Ways to Guarantee Disgruntled Customers

Last week we discussed how it is possible to have gruntled customers. This week we'll turn the tables and look at the flip side: disgruntled customers.

Let's examine points that will guarantee disgruntled customer service experiences every time.

The best way to create disgruntled customers is to have management ignore the details of customer service. Disgrunted customers usually appear when management overlooks the common, everyday interactions between the customer contact person and the customer. The best way to detect disgrunted customers is to have the attitude that if there is a problem, the customer will tell you about it.

Management only has to tell their employees to be enthusiastic, helpful, and knowledgeable, and it will happen. It better happen. Otherwise, that staff is out of here. Right?

Want your customers to be unhappy? Then just think positive and assume everything is humming along. After all, you know your staff respects you. (They'd better.) Your management style is such that just by telling your staff how to act and behave, the expected results will materialize. Like magic.

Customer Service Disgruntle Points:

First, to manage your employees:

  • Hold group meetings rather than meeting one on one. It is a much more efficient use of your time.

  • Manage your employees by talking down to them because they respect intimidation. Producing results is more important than long term consequences. Who knows what will happen between now and then? You'll probably be promoted and won't have to deal with this staff again.

  • Don't communicate to your employees the whys, they don't need to know. It will only confuse them.

  • Don't waste any time or money developing your employees' skills. They're just going to leave anyway.

Now you're on the road to bad customer service!

Second, to deal with your customers:

  • Telephone voice menus should have 6 or more selections. It saves so much time and money. What do they want from you? You're giving them a ton of information. Let them sort it out!

  • Customers should be secondary to the tasks at hand. It is irritating when the customer expects you to stop what you are doing to help them out. When you're almost finished, what is the problem with waiting just a few minutes?

  • When a staff member is serving a customer, all phone calls must be answered within 3 rings. "How can I possibly talk to both the customer standing in front of me when the phone is ringing? Management suggsts to answer phones within 3 rings, so I will." The customer in the store can just wait while you answer the questions of the customer on the phone. "I mean, the customer in the store is already there. What are they going to do? Walk out in a huff?" Probably not.

  • Do not cover the entire line of products with your employees. Can you believe that some customers expect every salesperson to know the basics of everything in the store? "Geez, I only work here."

  • Wait for the customer to approach and be in front of you before you acknowledge them. You don't want to appear aggressive. If they really need help they'll find you. Right?

  • Be yourself at all times. If you have some personal problems, so what?; Everyone does.

  • Be technically correct. Be able to memorize and recite all the company slogans perfectly. Never deviate from the script. Doesn't matter how you say it, just say it.

Follow these simple rules, and you're guaranteed to have many, many disgruntled customers.

John T. Self is a lecturer at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona). Prior to entering academia, Dr. Self spent fifteen years in the restaurant industry. While in the corporate world, he worked for several chains including Chili's and Steak and Ale, and as vice president of a regional restaurant chain overseeing six restaurants with sales of over twenty million dollars. He has also owned three independent restaurants, including a comedy club.
Dr. Self has also been involved in the development of international hospitality programs. While at Golden Gate University, he started the partnership with Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China and is continuing in that involvement at Cal Poly.

Improving Customer Service #28 of 70: View all in the Table of Contents

For more customer service articles, visit the Customer Service series on the new Sideroad: Practical Advice Straight from The Experts.

Text © Dr. John T. Self, 1997,1998. Part of the original Sideroad.