Service With a Style

For the past few weeks, I’ve been in computer hell. As a result, I’ve spent arduous hours on the phone with a variety of customer service departments.

If you know anyone in the armed services, let them know there’s a simple way to win the war in Iraq—simply force the enemy to call in for technical support from any major corporation—after one or two calls, they will hang themselves. At least that’s what I wanted to do.

My technical debacle gave me plenty of time (while on hold) to ponder what comprises good service. You may wonder what this topic has to do with you and your work. Even if you do not have the phrase “customer service” anywhere in your job description, you still have customers and it would be in your best interest to provide them with good service.

Here are a few observations:

Politeness Matters – Say what you will about outsourcing this function to foreign countries, whenever I was connected to a person whose accent was Indian, I was treated with the utmost respect. Each of the six Indians with whom I spoke was extremely polite, using my name and other times calling me “Ma’am.” Law of Attraction says you attract more of what you are. Because they were extremely polite, I was polite in return which I am sure they appreciated.

Tell The Truth – The Indian customer service reps with whom I spoke were not only polite, they were also completely candid. Even when distressed over the information they gave me (because I wanted it to be different), they never attempted to placate me by telling me what I wanted to hear. They laid out the facts of the situation and what steps I would need to take to resolve it. As a result, I was never upset with them, in spite of being exasperated with the way their company had overcomplicated their product.

Don’t Insult My Intelligence – In one incident, I discovered that a sales rep had given me misinformation about what a product would do and so I had to call back to purchase a different version of the same product. When I asked for a deep discount to compensate for the time I had wasted, a new sales rep used the “I have to ask my supervisor” approach and came back with a ridiculous offer. I finally talked directly with the supervisor and got what I wanted but I was insulted by the game.

Stay With Me When You’re Handing Me Off to Another Department – Whether by telephone or in person, I don’t like to be told by one department that another department has to do what I need. I feel much better, however, when that person “escorts” me to the correct department to make sure I get there. Especially on the telephone, this is great because, if you get disconnected, you have to start all over again with those sadistic recorded operators: “Press 1 if you love talking to machines, press 2 if you’re…blah blah blah”).

Ask for My Phone Number — If we get disconnected (which in a dazzling display of irony happens most often when talking with the phone company); please call me back so I don’t have to start all over again. When someone actually calls after I’ve been disconnected, I feel like dropping to my knees in gratitude. Wouldn’t you rather your customers feel that way versus wanting to hunt you down and hurt you?

The good/bad news is that we are all customers. If we treat our customers the way we would like to be treated, it’s amazing how quickly you can move them from hell to…if not heaven, at least into limbo which is a major step up.

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