Being in the answering service business, our company provides customer service on behalf of all of our clients 24/7/365. Because of this, I seem to find myself observing customer service (or lack thereof) everywhere I go and with every phone call I make.
It is not uncommon for the ‘service’ that we receive to be so mediocre that there has not really been any service provided at all. I know these things have happened to you… Ok, she answered the phone but then what? Yes, he took my money but was there an exchange of anything but money? She answered my question with an attitude that showed she couldn’t care less! He didn’t know the answer and didn’t try to find out! That clerk walked past that customer five times and never once looked at or talked to him.
Many people in the business of serving people really have no idea what that means, mainly because our expectations have fallen so low and there are few examples to which we can aspire. No wonder, when we are surprised by a company that provides a good service, we are jumping for joy and tell our friends about it! Let’s take those experiences and turn them into learning experiences we can apply to our own professional lives.
Since my area of expertise is communicating on the phone, these are some things that we can all do to ensure that our clients are being treated the way that we ourselves would like to be treated:
Treat your coworkers with respect and kindness at all times.
This treatment will set the bar for interactions between the staff members and carry over to interactions with the customers. If there is friction behind the scenes, how can anyone be expected to face a client or speak on the phone with a pleasant demeanor?
Make sure that all of your personal interactions are the same that you would expect from your staff.
Don’t act or speak one way and expect the people that work for you to do anything differently.
If you are an owner or manager, make test calls (or have someone make them for you) to gauge a typical customer experience.
Don’t assume that the things you want to happen are actually happening. When you discover a shortfall, take steps to fix it.
Train your people and give them the tools they need to provide the service you expect them to provide.
Provide any technical training needed so each person can answer appropriate questions. Provide any ‘soft skills’ training necessary to enable your staff to interact confidently with callers. Outsource the training if you are unable to provide it in-house.
Do whatever you can do to ensure that you can be confident that your company is being represented as you would like.