Is Customer Service Outdated?
One of the most important customer service skills you can develop is the ability to understand and effectively respond to the customer’s needs and concerns. For a long time, sales has been perceived to be mostly about trying to convince the customer that he needs the product. Excellent customer service starts by first taking the time to get to know the customer, his situation, his vision, his frustrations and his goals. Our Customer Service Skills seminar will guide you in how to get a grasp of these key issues. Once you have a good handle on what is on his heart and mind, then you will know how to offer the customer helpful solutions that are attractive to him because they have value to him.
Is Customer Service Outdated
In the past, I’ve written about the lack of attention far too many companies place on delivering a customer experience that wows. Being the optimist that I am, I keep hoping with fingers tightly crossed that companies will eventually get it. And you’d think that with times being what they are, the emphasis on delighting customers would be a big priority. Oh, if only that were true!
The dismal customer service that I have received these past few months from a company that has had my business for almost 5 years is what prompted me to write about service again. The experience has me thinking about what can happen when a family owned business is bought out by a mega corporation who clearly doesn’t care if customers are happy or not. This company is stagnating – not an innovative thinker in sight. No matter what the situation, they not only have one excuse after another, but after 5 months they have yet to resolve the problem. Frankly, I don’t care about their operational issues or the lack of staff, though I will say that if you must reduce your staff, please make sure you don’t keep the village idiot on board. Whatever their problems, they are not mine! I’m a paying customer who expects accurate billing and promises kept. What about you?
In the bestseller, The Pursuit of WOW! Tom Peters reminds us that 70% of customers hit the road NOT because of price or product quality issues, but because they did not like the human side of doing business with the provider of the product or service. Research conducted by The Forum Corporation supports this fact and indicates that 45% of these same customers said they switched to another company because the attention they did receive was poor in quality.
Is providing great customer service really that difficult? IBM founder Thomas Watson is attributed with saying, “if you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work”. Delivering WOW service is a commitment to do whatever it takes to serve the customer, and that commitment must be imprinted on the hearts and minds of every single employee. Only then can any organization stand apart from their competition.
Based on my own professional experience, I have defined four rules crucial to delivering winning customer service:
Rule #1: Listen! When customers complain there is a reason. Hear them out. This is an opportunity to make it right and to learn something. Listen without interrupting, giving excuses or arguing.
Rule #2: Don’t take it personally. Customer complaints are about products or services that did not live up to their expectations. Taking it personally, getting defensive, or getting angry only makes the situation worse.
Rule #3: Offer a sincere apology for the inconvenience and then fix the problem! Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Consider how you feel when something you bought didn’t do the intended job or caused an even bigger problem than the one it was supposed to fix.
Rule #4: Never say, “It’s not my job, my department, or my responsibility.” If you work at the company that made the product or sold the service – it is your job! Make a personal commitment to do whatever it takes to fix the problem even if it is not in your job description.
In the end, only those companies with an ongoing commitment to listen and serve can consistently keep their customers delighted and buying from them. Now would be an ideal time for my vendor to heed these words!
Barbara Giamanco is globally recognized as a leader in Sales. She’s the co-author of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, a keynote speaker, sales and social media strategist, corporate webcast host to top technology companies and the host of the popular Razor's Edge podcast bringing the world’s experts in business, sales, marketing and service to you. Barb is consistently a Top 25 Influential Leader in Sales, a Top 25 Sales Influencer on Twitter, one of Top Sales World’s Top 50 Sales and Marketing Influencers and recognized as one of the world's Top 65 Women Business Influencers alongside leaders like Arianna Huffington, Sheryl Sandberg, and Melinda Gates. Visit: www.scs-connect.com
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