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June 26, 2013

Is Customer Service Dead

Customer Service - Dead

THE SLOW DEATH OF CUSTOMER SERVICE
At the ripe old age of 12 I took my first job; a paper boy. I delivered the Daily Gazette in a small town in upstate New York. In hind sight, prior to taking the job, I should have done some research. You see, the Times Union (my rival paper) was quickly gobbling up the best reporters and photographers in the area and slowly pushing the Gazette out of circulation. My paper load drastically reduced during the first few months of delivery and by the time the bleeding stopped, I was down to a measly 16 customers. Instead of focusing on the quality of the paper I delivered, I decided to shift my attention on what I could do to ensure I kept the remaining customers on my route.

My decision; focus on customer service. I noticed that my competitor was delivering their papers to a mailbox located at the end of each customer’s driveway. This obviously made for quick and easy delivery, but for the customer, it meant they would need to trudge down the asphalt each morning in their robe and slippers to retrieve it. This was not only embarrassing for the customer but a serious hassle. So based on this observation, I decided to deliver my paper to the customer’s front door.

This simple act of customer service quickly changed my foothold on the neighborhood paper war. Embarrassed neighbors who were forced into a walk of shame each morning took notice of my door-to-door service and before I knew it, where switching over to my seemingly inferior news provider for the convenience of having their paper delivered to their door step. That early lesson in customer service has always driven me to ensure that R&D Events always puts the customer first. To us, there is nothing more important than our customer’s needs. I saw firsthand how ensuring that your customers stay content can help drive your bottom line; so it is always mind boggling when I run into a company that places so little emphasis on customer service.

Customer Service 2

BAD SERVICE AT ITS BEST

A few days ago I sent an email to a company about my desire to purchase several Microsoft Surface Tablets that they had posted for sale on eBay. This company specialized in the bulk sales of electronics and were bundling together 16 Tablets as a price that was too good to be true. They had several photos of the product displayed on their website, but surprisingly, none of the photos showed the screen of the tablet or an image providing proof that the Tablets actually work. Skeptical that upon receiving the tablets that none of them would actually turn on, I sent an email to the company inquiring about the possibility of receiving a few photos that showed proof that they worked. Below was the reply I received.

Client Email

Now, I don’t know about you, but this email rubbed me the wrong way, so much so that it inspired me to write this post. Somewhere along the way this company obviously lost sight of what their actual purpose should be. You see, their sole job should not be to sell electronics at rock bottom rates; it should be to sell electronics at rock bottom rates while building relationships with customers so that they feel they are going to receive a quality product at a fair price. After reading their email they are basically telling me that they are so good at what they do, and that they could care so little about my business, that it would be too much of a hassle to go the extra mile and close this +$4,000 deal.

Customer Service

THE PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT

So how do you offer good customer service? Here are a few ways we at R&D Events provide our clients with exceptional customer service.

  • Be Prepared – customers will have questions about your product and how it can best be used. You need to equip yourself and your team for these answers. There is nothing more frustrating than hearing the words “that is not my department, allow me to transfer you” or “let me ask my manager”. So many employees these days are ill equipped to answer questions or afraid to say the wrong thing that they are quick to push answering relatively simple questions on to someone else. Be prepared for questions customers might have and equip your team with tools and resources to get their job done quickly and effectively. It will save your customers a lot of run-a-round.
  • Prompt Response – we have set strict guidelines that state that all emails need a response within 2 hours and all proposals must be sent to clients within 12 – 24 hours. This ensures that our clients get the information that they need quick.  A quick response shows that you value their time and will work hard to meet and exceed their deadlines.
  • Smile – it sounds simple, but the act of smiling can go a long way! Think about the last time you went to the store. Did the checkout clerk smile as you entered the line? Probably not. They were most likely staring off into oblivion with an upside down smile. Their non-verbal cues evoke the sense that they most likely hate their job and your entrance into their line is now keeping them from taking their 12th break of the day. On the flip side, when you smile and make eye contact, you are telling people you are happy and glad to see them. Try and greet your customers with a big grin and make eye contact, you will immediately see them light up.
  • Under Promise and Over Deliver – this has been a mantra that has been beaten to death; but for us it is a guiding principle. What makes our clients happier than anything else is providing them with an experience that is far greater than they could have ever imagined, yet it did not cost them anything extra.
  • Use their Name – the most beautiful name in the entire world is your own and you will never get tired of hearing it. Think about it, when someone greets you by name you immediately feel like you have a relationship with that person.  If people are wearing a name tag, or hand you a business card or even a credit card, take notice of their name and use it! You will be surprised how far addressing someone by name will get you.

 

IF YOU REMEMBER NOTHING ELSE
Providing good customer service translates into repeat business; guaranteed!

If you have had any good or bad customer service experiences, let me know; I would love to hear from you!

R&D Events is the country’s most unique and diversified team building company. With nearly three decades of experience, the team at R&D Events has redefined the art of team work and has designed more than two dozen unique and fun events that will help strengthen your company’s ability to work together.  Call us today to get your team back on track! www.rndevents.com

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