I read an article about customer service late last week and have some comments. My past colleagues may not entirely agree, but this is my opinion. (The picture is what I looked like when providing technical support over the phone.)
The author suggests that there are five key points to good customer service:
- Be prepared. Absolutely. But being prepared and somehow magically knowing what the next customer’s request is going to be are two very different things. Whether I’m going to be making a double tall half-sweet raspberry mocha frappucino affogato or walking a customer through the process for removing malware from his computer, I can be prepared to do either of those things, but until I know which one I’m doing, I can’t already be doing it.
- Value people’s time. Again, absolutely. But sometimes it takes time. Just as I can’t already be making the double tall half-sweet raspberry mocha frappucino affogato, it can’t instantly be ready.
- Don’t take it out on customers if you don’t like your job. Okay. But sometimes shit happens. The barista doesn’t get to tell the customer to shut her pie hole when she’s being a bitch. So if the expectation is that the customer service representative can’t give attitude, maybe the customer should tone down hers.
- Never promise more than you can deliver. Ahh, one of my favourites. Unfortunately, the person doing the promising is selling the product, not supporting it, and is often well out of the picture before a problem arises. The support representative gets to be on the other end doing his best to resolve the problem. Also, it’s not always the seller or the supporter who’ve made the empty promises, but sometimes customers’ unfounded and unrealistic expectations based on misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
- Be pleasant. Sure, that goes without saying, but also follows from number three. Sometimes shit happens, and pleasant can be subjective. If the service is always slow or a particular employee always surly, maybe it should be brought to the attention of a manager. But if the customer got his order completely and correctly, and wasn’t directly insulted, maybe call it a win today and move on; someday the situation may be reversed.
Another blog highlighted some similar concepts and I’m glad they got the service they needed. But that level of service definitely comes at a cost that companies are rarely willing to pay.