Sledgehammer Customer Service

There are two kinds of companies out there:

  • Those who make their customers feel pain and annoyance every time they do business there, and
  • Those who take their customers’ pain away.

The first kind is easy to identify.

A radio station whose business voice line says “Call this other number, we’re on the air” and when you call the other number (for advertising info), you get a message asking you to call back in the afternoon.

A service business that makes you explain your situation every time you visit because they have not invested a dime or an hour to setup some way of recording why you came there, what you left and why. When you call them, you have to tell them who you are, what you brought in, perhaps give them a ticket number and then wait for them to go dig around in their files for a barely-legible carbonless copy of the work ticket, or perhaps dig around back in the shop to find your equipment and then ask Stan or Susan what the status of the equipment is because the paperwork doesn’t say and you have no system to keep track of any of this.

Sure hope Stan or Susan aren’t sick today.

Tough on the customer and a potential nightmare for the business. They have no idea how much business is in the building, who their customers are, or what customer service problems are going on- much less about to occur.

The second kind knows exactly what is going on in their business.

They track every order – and – every contact with their clients – and record the experience with the customer’s record in their customer database – sometimes called a customer relationship management (CRM) system. It’s not about the buzzword, it’s about the level of service that these things position you to provide.

As a result, a customer can call, email or visit and ANY staff member can check and see what the status is of an order, a repair, etc. They can see from the last contacts that the customer is in rush or is grumpy or is a pain to deal with or is not in a hurry – without asking anyone, without running into the warehouse/shop, or digging through a file cabinet.

Seems like common sense these days, I mean, it is 2007.

Yet there are a lot of yellow pads on clipboards out there that are totally in charge of their business. Look around, you’ll find a wall of nails with a bunch of clipboards hanging from them. Better than nothing, but not good for the customer, or the customer service.

Why does this matter? Because (hello?) customer service is critical for retail and service businesses. It’s far too easy to find a situation where the â??left hand doesn’t talk to the rightâ?. Where the person on the phone doesn’t know anything without putting you on hold for 5-7 minutes, or calling you back (if they remember), unless they just happen to be working on your item.

Another reason it matters is that it provides you with a “dashboard” type view of everything about that customer, their accounts, their purchases, equipment or whatever. If they owe you a lot of $, you know. If they have items that are due for service, you’d see it. Upsell city, right in front of you.

Customers dislike calling a store 2 days in a row and having to re-explain the entire story re: an issue they are dealing with, a service they bought or a product left for repair. Maybe it’s because someone different answered the phone. Maybe it’s because the last staffer to talk to them no longer works here, or is on vacation. All of this creates work for your customer. Don’t make them work to do business with you.

Having systems in place to record every contact not only allows your staff to know what’s going on (much less you), but they also provide valuable information over time about the customer, your service, what’s late/on-time, and are great for identifying potential problems.

Put the sledgehammer away.

3 thoughts on “Sledgehammer Customer Service”

  1. To add to your sledgehammer theme. Many companies don’t know the value of a customer. The bad experience on the $10 sale means they have no chance on the bigger sale later or a stream of sales.

    Recently, I was looking for a mud flap on a foreign SUV. New they were sold in pairs for $37. But the parts guy said he would check with the body shop and see if they had any laying around. He called me the next day, said he had the mud flap. The total cost? Zero!

    This guy understood customer service. Unfortunately too many organizations do not.

  2. Really good and really interesting post. I expect (and other readers maybe :)) new useful posts from you!
    Good luck and successes in blogging!

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