Archive for May, 2005

Who says the customer is always right?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

Customer service. The bane of every industry, right? The customer is always complaining or wanting more for less money. They don’t know anything, so you put your least qualified people on as your customer service/technical support people, right?What if we took another approach? Could customer service turn into a way to generate new business prospects? Will the customer referral generated from one top notch service rep cinch the biggest deal in company history? Taking a positive attitude towards the customer and servicing their needs starts with a few basic principles.

Keep an open mind. Maybe Al Whiner is usually prone to calling when it’s a user error, but there is always the possibility that he has a genuine problem. The customer service representative must be open to that possibility.

Really Listen. Customer service representatives often deal with a few recurring problems. Sometimes, when a customer calls up and starts describing the issue, the representative tunes out; having already decided what the issue is and what the resolution should be. Key points may be missed.

Don’t assume. The old adage about assumptions continues to ring true. If the representative has followed through with an open mind and good listening ears, this one should come easy. Reiterate, in your own words, what the customer has stated the problem to be. Have the customer fill in any gaps in your understanding. Don’t fill them in based on assumptions.

Be empathetic. If customers didn’t call in with problems, you might not have a job. Picture yourself in their place. They paid for a working product/service and something isn’t working. Remember how you felt the last time you had a product fail you? What were your expectations from technical support when you called for help? You represent your company; apologize for the inconvenience and be helpful. It’s your job.

Follow up. Make sure the issue is resolved. If further action is needed, ensure it happens. Call the customer back to make sure they are satisfied. If they weren’t before, this follow up will certainly work in your favor.

There are many other obvious tips that could be mentioned; most of them involving common sense. Above all, remember to be courteous and professional. Be apologetic and don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Let the customer know you value their business and they’ll come back for more. Finally, survey your customers to see just how well you’re doing.