I started working when I was 9 years old.
That is the first time that I babysat.
When I was 14, my parents bought a motel. Our house as attached to the motel and the reception/office was off the kitchen. Strangers came day and night. Our livelihood depended on how happy they were, how well they were treated.
At 39 years old, I can officially say that I have worked in Client Services for 25 years. Sure I would not call myself an expert but I do know something about client services. In fact, I have worked at developing some standards as well evaluated the services offered where I work.
To some degree, just about everyone works in client services, some more directly than others.
Back in my day, the client was right almost all the time. The company was required to make every reasonable effort to ensure the client was happy and satisfied. Bob Farrell nice encapsulated the concept of client service that I follow and believe in Give em the pickle.
The following is my vision of good customer service:
- Always serve with a smile: Even if it's over the phone, people can sense it.
- Do not hesitate to offer just a bit extra. This is especially important if you have to deliver bad news. If you cost the client something, if you made them lose something they view as important, give a little something to make them feel a bit better about your company.
- Don't cut corners. If you are rushing or sloppy, it makes the client feel like you are bugging them or wasting your time on them. That is never a good thing.
- Be polite and professional no matter what. Swearing or saying things like "Whatever" are never acceptable. Yes the client may raise their voice or swear, but that doesn't mean you have to sink to their level. Especially don't tell a client off. One person once told me that they didn't need clients like me.. Trust me, this was not warranted in that situation.
- Take the time needed to listen to them and understand exactly what they need or want. Don't assume or jump to conclusions. Misunderstandings lead to mistakes. Mistakes often lead to a nasty irate customer.
- Take responsibility for your mistakes. I can't stress this enough. Do everything you can to make it right. Especially don't blame the customer for your mistake (By your, this can be the mistake of a coworker, not and not necessarily yours. You are the company in the clients eyes, just like your coworker is the company. So their mistakes are by extension your mistake.)
- Don't make promises you can't keep
- Don't give the client the run-around
- Don't take it personal. Making it personal will make you break the rules of good client service
I mention reasonable, as you all have seen or heard of that client that asks for the completely unreasonable. If a client had asked, for the price of his room, to be chauffeured in a helicopter every day, that is not reasonable. If he asked for fresh sheets every day and soap under his pillow, that is maybe excessive but completely reasonable.
Lately, I find that the concept of good customer service is completely disappearing. You do meet the odd representative that offers excellent service, but if that representative works for a company with horrible policies in regards to customer service, the poor representative will disappear in a crowd of mediocrity.
I can name several companies where I have had nothing but stellar experiences in client service. I have also see "brokers" for mediocre companies be the only ones to give said companies a good name. (Rogers and Future Shop come to mind)
It seems like companies and their employees are completely forgetting that customers are their bread and butter. Since they have thousands and millions of customers, they don't see how loosing a few customers due to bad customer services is really going to affect their bottom line.
They also figure that since other companies are not doing any better, clients don't have much of a choice but to pay and put up with often abuse but the employees and company policies.
All the money they spend in advertisements and promotions to attract new clients while they treat their existing clients like crap.
Would it not make more sense to treat your clients well? A happy client tells everyone, an angry clients also shares it with the world. In this day of Twitter, Facebook and blogs, one single unhappy customer can reach thousands, millions even. Would it not be to their advantage to avoid such bad publicity by avoiding getting the client so angry?
I have been particularly lucky, or is it unlucky lately in my experiences with various companies. I am shocked by the total disregard they have in regards the bad reputation they portray.
Why give the pickle? Who cares about only one client in this day and age.
Thanks for reading.