Sunday, July 14, 2019

Customer Service

This is a quote from Leon Gorman, who was the president and Chairman of the Board for L.L.Bean. His grandfather founded the company in 1912. He took it upon himself to learn every aspect of the business. The one very important thing that Mr. Gorman knew was that customer service had to come first, along with quality products.

Whether the consumer is shopping in a store or online or by phone, the consumer must feel that they are important. This comes about through quality training of any employee that comes in contact with customers. Every way that employees interact with the customers can make or break a deal. 

Briefly, let me say that there are stores that I just do not go inside due to the fact that there is no one there to assist me. There are times when I may need help finding something. If I receive an attitude, as if to say that they do not have time for me, then I know my business is not needed there. It is a simple thing to just leave. 

The days of "the customer is always right" is most definitely not the case many times in retail stores or on the phone. If the employees are trained well in handling an irrate customer then all will work out. If my job is in customer service then I must expect some rude customers. It is my job to try to appease them. Employees must know the store policies and ways to convey this to customers in a quiet and professional manner. 

With all of the social media today, one person's report of being undervalued or not treated fairly can go viral. Smart business owners know that it is much easier to keep customers happy instead of having to go out to bring in more. More customers are eventually not going to be coming if they hear too many negative reviews.

The face to face, in the store, is just one kind of customer service to work on. This past week I found myself having to deal with a few problems that needed the attention of a live human being on the phone. I called the customer service number that I found for them and had to go through 10 - 15 minutes of pushing buttons that a recorded message was giving me. Questions about the reason that I was calling and giving me examples and which button to press. Except none of the examples were the reason that I was calling. I felt helpless each an every time. 

What did I do? I just picked something close to what I needed. This led me to another prompt of questions from an automated recorded message. It seemed as if I were in a spiral of automated recorded messages. Now, mind you, in between these spirals of going through pressing buttons, I always would get the message of, "All of our representatives are busy. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order that it was received." Next, comes some of the most annoying music that is known to mankind.

After the spiraling through the never ending recordings, a real live human being comes on the line. Most of the time, they are courteous and helpful. Unless, you need to be transferred to some other department. Then, all I can say is that I am now hoping that my call is not disconnected and that I have to start the process all over again. This actually did happen to me twice this week.

If I am dealing with a company that I can stop giving my business to and switch to someone else...then I take that option. There are times when it is not a choice. I would say more often then not, this is where the attitudes come in and the longer customers are left in limbo on the phone line.

Providing exceptional service should not be rocket science. It must start from the top down, which means attitudes and employee training. Employees who are specifically trained in the art of quality customer service will keep your company alive and well. Employees will remain loyal because as the leader, you have empowered them on how to deal with difficult customers.

Surveying customers is a fabulous way to get the information that you need to help you adjust any under performance that should be worked on in your company. Rewarding those staffers who go above and beyond in their efforts will always pay dividends.

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