"Thank you for calling! Have we resolved your issue today?"
"No," I reply. "You haven't helped me."
"Okay!" a perky voice responded. "We'll be sending you an email survey that we hope you will take the time to fill out. Quality customer service is important to us and only by obtaining such feedback can we ascertain if we've been helpful."
"Sounds good," I reply. "However, you haven't helped me."
"Okay - thanks for calling!"
Sure enough, as promised, a survey was emailed pronto. I still had issues, but now I had a survey. I decided to fill out the survey to let them know what I thought. I opened the survey. The first thing it said was, "This survey will take between 10 and 15 minutes to finish. We appreciate your time."
I'm quite clear that this company doesn't appreciate my time or my feedback. They've indicated this to me in many ways. I'm also quite certain that they are spending a great deal of time, energy and money on customer service. So, what's the problem?
What if your customer service isn't effective? What if it actually angers your customers?
This is a true story and it's becoming more and more common. When I later called this same organization to cancel my business with them it started out nicely.
"Hi! How can I help you?"
When I replied that I would be cancelling their services the tone changed immediately. There were no questions concerning how they might keep my business. Only an implied threat that I was making a big mistake and once I cancelled I would not be able to come back under the same conditions.
Why would I want to come back to that?
Customer service is the front line for many businesses. How your front line treats customers and clients will make the difference between being successful and watching your business go elsewhere.
Technology has made it easier to contact customers and find out how they feel about their experience. We can track products and services through a wide variety of means to better understand customer trends and behavior. However, the best technology in the world won't help you if you don't pay attention to the feedback you are receiving. You might as well open a window and throw your money out.
When thinking about your customer service the first question you need to ask is "Are we really helping our customers?" If you can't answer that question then you may have a problem. The next question to consider is, "How do we know we are helping?".
Customer feedback shouldn't require someone to take a lot of time out of their day. Additionally, anyone dealing with the public needs to understand that when a customer calls for assistance, you are not doing them a favor by replying. They are doing you a favor by contacting you in the first place.
If you are not able to help your customer don't gloss over it. They won't be fooled - they know they didn't receive help. Acting otherwise only creates anger at your business.
Excuses such as "That's our policy", "We're working on procedures", "Our staff is currently busy", only create problems. Your customers don't care about your internal issues or challenges. They care about the products or services your are delivering. If you can't help them, others will.
A wise mentor once said - "Don't ever present a problem without a solution. Don't ever fail to look for a solution when presented with a problem."
Good words to remember.
Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising.
She may be reached at 303-651-6612; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.comm-concepts.com; Facebook.com/Communication Concepts; Twitter @CommConceptsPR; or Linked In.