As a passionate advocate for customer service excellence, I hear stories daily of people who have been disappointed and left feeling undervalued by companies in the way they have been treated and communicated with.
I too have often been left wondering in disbelief at certain companies’ customer service skills.
However, on the flip side, some companies have outstanding customer service and go the extra mile, only to find they cannot please their customer no matter how hard they try.
Before Christmas, I was shopping in the supermarket and the customer ahead of me had 6 bottles of whisky loaded into his trolley, making good use of the promoted special offer. When he approached the checkout, the assistant advised him the offer was limited to 2 bottles per customer. Instead of calmly accepting this fact, the customer proceeded to raise his voice and state this was unacceptable and he would purchase 6 bottles if he wanted to. The young assistant was trying her best to stay calm but her supervisor was duly called over to alleviate the situation and return 4 bottles to the shelf. If this customer had accepted the company’s policies the scenario would have been very different and both customer and assistant would not have been left feeling jaded and frustrated.
We can all benefit from becoming better customers by following these simple tips:
Treat others as you wish to be treated
This is something our parents would say to us back in the days, but it still rings true today.
Probably more so. With hectic lives and busy schedules, we can easily forget to look after each other in the way we should. By taking a few minutes to smile and acknowledge people, hold open a door, or show kindness to someone in need, we can turn that person’s day around.
Manage your expectations
We all expect a high-quality customer experience. By understanding and managing our expectations of a company or situation, we are in a better position to stay in control of our emotions if our expectations are not met. The experience and level of service received from a 3 Star Michelin restaurant will be different from a low budget takeaway restaurant. We must adjust our expectations in keeping with the company or product we are dealing with.
Rules/policies are in place for reasons
Companies have policies in place which they need to adhere to.
The policy of 2 bottles per customer is in place to allow all customers to benefit from the promotion.
By offering a voucher that is known to be out of date and expecting it to be honoured not only causes embarrassment when it is rejected, it also puts the cashier in an awkward situation by refusing it.
Checkouts with less than 10 items are just that – they are not for full trolleys or 20 items.
By following the rules, we create a better experience for customers and staff.
P’s and Q’s
Again, another one from our parents, but basic manners go a long way. By saying please and thank you, we acknowledge and respect the person serving us and will receive the same level of respect back.
Do your research first
By investigating online or via the telephone for a specific item or service, we can ascertain if the company can fulfil our needs. It may be the item is out of stock and needs to be ordered in, or that it has been discontinued. By researching, we ensure that both ours and the company’s time is not wasted and there is no frustration when the company states they cannot fulfil our order as we expected.
Allow plenty of time
We’ve all done it. We’ve forgotten to get something and have a very limited time before the item is needed or we must be somewhere else at a certain time. When we are short of time and rushing, we find ourselves in the longest queue to pay, find the item has been moved from its usual location or discover it’s out of stock and will be in tomorrow which will be too late.
By planning ahead and allowing plenty of time, we are more in control of the situation.
Provide feedback – both positive and negative
Companies need customer feedback to grow. Knowing how to correctly provide feedback is key to a successful relationship with a company.
It’s all too easy nowadays to publish a poor customer service experience to social media – following the ‘naming and shaming’ policy.
However, the most successful way of providing negative feedback is to contact the company direct (and privately) stating where they have fallen short and what they can do to resolve the issue. Companies respect this form of communication and will ensure you receive a response and a solution to your issue.
It’s also important to provide positive feedback. By leaving a positive review online, commenting on social media linking the company and verbally telling family and friends we are ensuring that recognition is given when deserved. And who doesn’t like to receive a compliment every now and then?
Customer Service is a two-way relationship.
Being an exceptional customer may just result in you receiving exceptional customer service.
Try it next time and let me know what a difference it makes.