Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Doing Things Right vs. the Right Thing to Do

The Reality of Customer Satisfaction

No one enjoys doing business with a sour puss. Syndicated radio talk show host Clark Howard frequently refers to customer service departments as “Customer No Service.” He is referring, of course, to the poor service frequently offered from customer service personnel. If you have heard his show, then you know the public relations nightmares many national and international corporations have suffered because the people who deliver their customer service forgot about the customer.

On the other hand, everyone enjoys doing business with cheerful and helpful people. As a customer, I have no choice in who answers the phone when I call for help. But as a sales consultant, it is always my choice how I act.

“Customer No Service” is not the way to grow your customer base. For professional sales consultants, “Customer No Service” is simply not an option.

Just this past week, I traveled on an Atlanta-based airline that is bleeding red ink. Can you guess why their bottom line looks so bad? If the long and involved “Customer No Service” interaction I had with them is any indication of their customer service, then it is pretty self-explanatory.

It could have been just as easy to say with a smile, “It would be my pleasure to correct this problem.” But from the agent to the flight attendant to a pilot traveling standby, their actions said, “We’re no longer allowed to give awesome service.” Hey, maybe that is company policy. I don’t know. Still, it is their choice how they act.

Lesson number one: You have all the power when it comes to how you act. Whether or not your boss is being mean, or the previous customer was a jerk, or your spouse hollered at you on your way out the door to come to work, you have the power to control your actions and responses to the customer now sitting in front you.

Lesson number two: Stop complaining to customers when you do your job. If you render a service but complain about doing it, what’s the point? Give service cheerfully. Ah, you don’t feel like it because you’re in a bad mood? Hey, fake it ‘til you make it. Remember the old song: A smile is just a frown turned upside down, my friend.

Lesson number three: Don’t tell a customer no. Instead, if you know what they are asking for is absolutely not possible, then offer another solution instead. In other words, don’t be the bearer of bad news — be their savior. Never ever, under any circumstances promise what you cannot deliver. You’ve heard it before: Don’t over promise and under deliver.

Lesson number four: Always follow these customer service rules.

1. SMILE when you are dealing with a customer. A smile shows you are enjoying your job and appreciate your customer’s business.

2. Use COURTEOUS WORDS, such as thank you, you’re welcome, it’s my pleasure, would you be kind enough, yes sir, no sir, anything else we can help you with today?

3. When you learn that you cannot live up to a customer service commitment, CALL THE CUSTOMER before the customer calls you.

4. Following a transaction, extend your hand and SHAKE THE CUSTOMER’S HAND as you say, “Thank you for your business.”

5. Occasionally, call your customer after the transaction is complete as a FOLLOW UP. This is really great customer service.

6. Demonstrate HUMILITY by showing you’re vulnerable. When a customer knows you aren’t a “know it all”, you gain credibility with customers.

7. DOUBLE CHECK FACTS and FIGURES. Repeat them to the customer to make sure that you didn't make a mistake.

8. AVOID WISHFUL THINKING. If there is something about your product or service that based on your experience the customer is likely to misunderstand, point it out even if it might cost you the order. It's better to find out now than after the product is delivered or worse yet, installed.

Take a look in the mirror and ask, “Would I want this face to deliver my customer service? Does this face inspire confidence in the brands or services it represents?” If the answer is yes, then you are on your way to building a successful business thus increasing your profits.


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