Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Customer Service

This article was written by Jerry Margolin, SCORE Orange County Counselor

Customer Service is simply providing information to your customer in a reasonable and timely manner, whether you have solved the problem or not. It is seldom recognized, because it is rarely seen.

  • When talking to a customer on the phone, put a smile in your voice.

Believe it or not, it carries over to the person on the other end of the line! Do you know how hard it is to sound harsh if you are smiling when you speak? Simply put; it’s almost impossible. Any time that you can have a pleasant, and friendly conversation, it’s a lot easier to solve the problem. That’s your job. It’s not a contest, and the customer will remember it well..

  • Listen to what your customer is trying to tell you.

A customer can be upset about many things. They may have been waiting on hold and left there for a long time. They may have worked with customer service agents in the past, who were argumentative, and are dreading doing it again. A cheerful voice, showing some empathy, and saying something like “No wonder you’re upset!” Let’s see how we can solve the problem” is hard to ignore. In many cases it is enough to keep the customer.

  • Don’t lie or make promises you can’t keep!

Yesterday I had a meeting at 1:00 PM that was very important. I hadn’t eaten yet, and it was already 12:35 p.m. so I ran next door to the hamburger place, and asked how long it would take to make a hamburger for me. He thought carefully, and said “Seven Minutes.” That was plenty of time to get it down, and make my meeting. I said “go for it!” Almost twenty minutes later I was still waiting and running out of time. I asked him why it wasn’t ready. The answer was “We make all of our hamburgers cooked to order, and to perfection, this is not McDonalds.” I asked him why he lied to me for an $8.00 order. He kept talking about the quality and how much I would enjoy it... I explained that an honest answer, would have allowed me to make the decision as to what I wanted to do, but trying to keep me there for the order, was not acceptable... His partner suggested they should give it to me raw. They wanted to win. I knew that asking for my money back was pointless, and I saw that they were finally wrapping it, so I took it and gulped it down as I ran back to the office, also noticing that everything I asked to be left off the hamburger was on it. They got their win but it will cost them my business and all my friends business if I can help it. So don’t be so intent in winning the battle, that you lose the war..

Anyone can sell a product that works well and is reasonably priced, but your real opportunity to impress a customer is when they have a complaint. The way you handle it is critical. A fast efficient solution which is positive for both sides can create a permanent bond with your customer. Try it; you’ll like it!