How important is customer service to you? Does it vary if you are the provider or the receiver? The truth to that last question lies within how you actually have responded to people or situations, rather than on what you may know the answer to be. We know a lot of things; or at least claim to; yet we often find ourselves behaving in a different manner; hence the on-going commitment to getting out of our own way.
As humans we are creatures of habit and as many have pointed out, the way we do anything is the way we do everything. Of course, there are exceptions. Let’s set those aside for the moment and focus on the patterns that exist.
Some examples of how we get in our own way:
- Let our emotions get the best of us
- Get caught up in being self-absorbed that we forget the impact to others (ironic how clearly we see this in others and can overlook in ourselves!)
- Functioning from a “being right” mindset
- Take on more or less responsibility than is ours
These are precursors to blaming and making excuses. In addition, all of these lead to high stress, low effectiveness and poor customer service.
A friend shared with me that she read on-line about a car dealership that followed up on a “complaint” posted from a disgruntled customer. After researching the issue, the dealership uncovered their mistake. The response included a public (on-line) acknowledgement of the error and an apology. What a huge demonstration of honesty, integrity and customer service. Let’s face it; businesses are really people who as a group function as a business. Therefore, businesses, like people, make mistakes. It is less about the mistakes made and more about the ownership taken and then how subsequently handled. Apologies can go a long way in making amends. That is, of course, as long as there is corrective action to address the current issue and prevent continual reoccurrence of the same mistake. This particular dealership had a multitude of other positive postings regarding their authenticity and excellent service.
Another scenario where an apology would have displayed excellent customer service was a situation where legal documents were incorrectly sent to the wrong address. The client’s concern was dismissed; as unintended as it might have been; by stating “no one else could do anything with the information.” When errors occur, conveying an understanding of the concern, inconvenience or other aspect to the receiver, followed by a sincere apology has a significant impact with the person who was affected by the mistakes. Neither an understanding nor an apology was expressed here. And in this case, an offer to address any repercussions at no cost probably would have provided added comfort and value to the client.
Most people know the type of customer service they’d like to receive. What if you were the supplier? Would you be willing to extend the service you are looking for? What you say and your behaviors in everyday events are the real indicators.
In other words, customer service is more than an act designated solely for business or when there is an exchange of money. Excellent customer service is derived from a philosophy and belief we first ingrain in ourselves in order to implement in our day-to-day performance. Reflect on your experiences outside of business, when you succumbed to one of the examples above of how we get in our own way. Probably you’d rather not, yet those are the moments where our issues to improve are revealed. Ignoring the issues leaves them as unplanned reactions ready to expose us again – often at a very inopportune time. The fact that you’re able to “flip” the switch when you deem important enough; and we have all done this; and respond appropriately, says you are capable of doing so other times. </SP an>
- Stop the blame! How? When you get in your own way, take a deep breath, and then look at how YOU responded – your thoughts, words, emotions and behaviors. The only relevance to the other person’s response is noting those are your triggers.
- Apologize – without berating anyone, especially yourself! Berating is a mask that covers the excuse of avoiding taking responsibility and the appropriate action to make the necessary changes to improve.
- Change your response! If you keep saying “you know,” or “you just can’t help yourself,” or “you’re trying” you are making excuses. Why? We tend to avoid looking at our part in circumstances because we often feel embarrassed or some sort of unpleasant reaction. That discomfort is your clue, if you could have done it on your own you would have by now, true? What help do you need? Get it!
Disregarding the needs of your customer is poor customer service. How would you rate your customer service to yourself? Why? We can only give to others what we first embrace in ourselves. Would you want to be your customer every day? Thoughts?