Customer service is one of the pillars that hold any service company steady. I recently had two contrasting experiences in customer service that further validated my opinion on this, and it made an impact enough that I wanted to share my story.
Let’s begin with the negative experience, as that occurred first in reality. I was having some trouble with a car that I just purchased, and had to return for service multiple times. The issue was happening because of a mistake on the dealerships part–though minor, the problem resulted in me making several trips to a location that was an inconvenient distance away. I called the manufacturer directly to see if there were any alternatives to rectifying the situation, as I was not hearing back from the car dealership.
After navigating through the phone system, I was directed to a customer service representative who initially appeared friendly, but immediately deflected ownership of the issue to the car dealer. The agent stated that “unfortunately” there was nothing he could do, and that the issue was not something he could do anything about.
One thing I have learned after years working directly with customers and maintaining quality guidelines is that language is the most important part of a customer service conversation. On a phone call or in an email message, words are all you have. It is vital to maintain a positive attitude and choose language that reflects that. Nine times out of 10, even the most irate customer is calmed when he or she realizes that the person on the other line truly wants to help.
Imagine the impact of words like the ones below if you were calling a company for help.
- “I’m sorry, but I can’t do anything.”
- “You’re going to have to call someone else.”
- “I don’t know.”
Does that language make you feel like the person you are speaking with is on your team?
The issue was that the customer service representative I dealt with had no interest in helping. He did not want to go above and beyond to assist, but rather just wanted the call to end so he could go about his day. While perhaps that is a good way to save yourself the trouble of doing any more work than you have to, that attitude damages the company image. When I receive bad service, I adjust my expectations and make the choice for my next purchase to go with a company that has provided better service. Of course, the quality of the product or service is taken into account as well. In extreme circumstances, I will not return to a brand.
On the contrary, just after receiving some bad service, I then had to make a second call where I received exceptional service from another company. This was an even more minor issue than that of my car–I was simply calling to follow up on something I hadn’t received in the mail. The gentleman I spoke with on the phone this time had a positive, upbeat tone and immediately stated that he was going to assist me as best he could. He apologized that I hadn’t received my item, and then researched the issue for me to find out what had happened. At the end of my call, he even offered to send me a t-shirt just because I had an issue. While that was going above and beyond, it was the language and his attitude that made me feel valued as a customer to know that my satisfaction is important to the company. And just before hanging up, he reminded me to call back again if I have any further issues. Those kind of statements remind a customer that their issues are not unwanted, but that the company aims to please.
Take a look at some alternatives to the phrases I provided earlier.
- “I don’t know off the top of my head, but let me find out.”
- “I am going to get you to the right department who will figure this out.”
- “While I don’t have the ability to change the policy, here is what I can do.”
These words don’t change the situation, but rather the delivery of the information. That is what customer service is about. It isn’t a trick, but rather a willingness to help.
It is a much more effective path to provide great service initially than to try and repair the effects of poor service. I believe in treating all customers the same–no matter how large an event is, every customer should be a satisfied one. We pride ourselves on providing quality service in our product and in our office, and our goal is to have every customer happy with what Christie’s offers.