New World of Customer Service
Anytime a customer comes into contact with any aspect of
your business, however remote, it is an opportunity to form an impression.
What type of impression is your company leaving for your customers? Is it a
"Wow" experience where customers leave feeling good? Or is it an unpleasant
moment of truth, leaving a bad taste in the customer's mouth?
Customer Service does not have to be a nightmare for your company. CBIL just
recently kicked-off our training program entitled, "The New World of
Customer Service," in partnership with Development Dimensions International
(DDI), a nationwide leader in the training industry.
The New World of Customer Service program is designed
to create extraordinary service opportunities for everyone in your
organization, from service leaders to service providers. Our goal is to help
organizations create loyalty by working with them to develop service
cultures that are linked to business objectives. Through our years of
experience we have learned that leadership is the key to customer loyalty.
Leadership is based on training, trust, and partnerships that result in
Some time ago a friend
shared a customer service experience with me that I haven't forgotten: One
day she was working on a training project and decided to go to lunch at a
restaurant next door. It was a small restaurant that served hamburgers,
fries, sandwiches, etc. After she placed her order, she noticed there was a
dog on the premises that followed the order taker in the kitchen where the
food was being prepared. My friend called the order taker and asked if she
would keep the dog out of the kitchen while her food was being prepared. The
order taker then called the manager to her table and my friend explained the
situation. The owner listened and then told my friend that if she did not
like the dog in the kitchen, then she needed to go somewhere else to eat.
The attitude was total indifference to the customer. My friend said no
problem, cancelled her order, and took her business across the street. She
then called the City Inspectors office to report the situation.
Needless to say, the restaurant is now closed. Apparently, this business
cared nothing about creating extraordinary service opportunities for the
customers. Of course we know this could have been fixed. After all, customer
service is seen through the eyes of the customer. Let us assist your company
in creating extraordinary service opportunities. Call me at 314.539.5357 or
drop me an email.
- Karin Fowler
10 Customer Service Mistakes & What You Can Do To Prevent Them
The most effective leader is one who not only effectively
manages mistakes but turns them into opportunities that strengthen the
company vision. With that, here are the top 10 mistakes employees make with
Taking the customer for granted. It is common for
employees to forget the expected niceties: “Good morning.” “How may I
help you?” “Let me check for you.” “Thank you.” “We appreciate your
business.” Customers have come to expect these phrases, delivered
sincerely, when they are purchasing something. A quick and surefire way
to lose customers is to take them for granted and stop showing them
appreciation. Make sure your staff knows that you expect them to show
politeness and appreciation toward customers. Give them some leeway on
how to express that, so they don’t sound like robots. But if they go a
bit too far-“Hiya, dude!” – reel them in by telling and showing them the
proper way to address a customer.
Using jargon, expecting the
customer to understand your lingo. Even when the customers are highly
trained professionals, they may not be familiar with your company’s
acronyms or buzz words. If your company deals with customers, don’t
assume they understand industry talk. For example, the insurance
professional who says “binder” means something entirely different from
the image the consumer conjures up, which is usually a vision of a
three-ring binder! Listen closely to what your people are saying. Or ask
someone who doesn’t know your business to call and talk to your people.
Get them to tell you how they were treated and what confusing words your
Speaking so fast that the customer has to ask the
employee to repeat. When you hear a customer repeatedly asking your
staff to repeat himself, this is a sign the employee is speaking too
quickly. When he slows down, he needs to make sure the tone won’t be
interpreted as condescending. The reason the customer is asking for the
information again is not because they are dumb. They may be unfamiliar
with what your employee is saying and just needs him to slow down.
Giving short, clipped answers. When staff say, “Yes”
instead of “Yes, let me look that up for you,” or “Yes, we do have that
in stock,” it can come across as unfriendly or even curt. Adding a few
additional words to amplify the point conveys a friendly demeanor. When
you hear your employees giving short answers, pull them aside afterwards
and help them understand how clipped answers can be interpreted
negatively by customers. Suggest they add a few more words to their
answers to show they’re friendly and interested in making the customer
Not being proactive when a problem arises. When a
customer initiates a call about a problem, they become angrier when they
find out your company knew about the problem but didn’t notify him/her
immediately. Train your people to call customers as soon as they’re
aware of a problem. It may not be a pleasant call to make, but it’s less
difficult than the situation may potentially get if they wait for the
customer to initiate contact.
Not appearing like they care about the customer’s
complaint. Often staff does not show that they care about a customer’s
concern, or they may even get defensive when a customer complains.
Perhaps it’s a common complaint, one they have heard so often that they
have become callused. Perhaps there’s nothing they can do about the
issue. If they instead act like they care, many problems would be
resolved more quickly. The customer would feel that your business was
concerned about his/her issue.
Being preoccupied with other tasks (talking with
co-workers, doing paperwork, stocking shelves). Train your staff to
notice what’s going on around them. Teach them to look up often from
what they are doing and approach customers who may look puzzled or lost.
This not only improves the customer’s impression of your service but
also cuts down on shoplifting.
Interrupting the customer or no longer listening,
believing or acting as if they know what the customer is asking or
saying. After working in a customer contact position for a while, you
can begin to predict what customers are going to ask or complain about.
However, it makes matters much worse when the employee cuts the customer
off in mid-sentence. Remind your people that each customer wants to be
heard. It will help build a positive relationship with the customer
which will encourage him/her to come back again.
Making judgments about the buying power of a customer
based upon his or her appearance, language skills, or company’s
reputation. Buyers come in all levels of dress and education so it’s
unwise to assume buying ability based on these aspects. Employees
sometimes make snap judgments about customers based on their buying
history, assuming for example, that order will be small and therefore
neglects the customer in someway. Help your employees see that these
assessments hurt your company and are unfair to the customer.
Arguing with the customer. You can’t win an argument
with a customer! Even if you win the disagreement, you lose the
customer. When the customer is wrong, there are ways to assist the
customer in understanding your point without being rude. Role-play
common scenarios with staff about bad customers who are trying to blame
the company for their mistakes. And yes, bad customers do exist! Train
your team on how to handle a difficult customer so that they leave with
their dignity intact and remain your customer, rather than becoming more
embarrassed and angry.
Heading off these 10 common customer contact mistakes is not
easy. It takes vigilance, caring and time on the manager’s part. You need to
help your staff see new ways to interact with customers. Train them in ways
that do not affect their self-esteem. It is easy to yell and berate your
staff. It is much harder to take time and coach them so that they,
themselves, want to improve.
Adapted from “Best Practices in Customer Service,” edited by Ron Zemke and
John A. Woods.