The Right Way to Look at Customer Service

Customer serviceHere’s a truly sad fact: these days, customer service is considered to be good when you can eventually get a human being to answer your question, even if they don’t know anything about it. But when did customer service become such an oxymoron? And how can you treat your own customers better so that they not only stay your customers but evangelize for you?

Customer Service – Then and Now

I still remember, back in the early 1980s when you could call customer service or tech support and generally get through to an actual human being. I remember being thrilled when calling Word Perfect tech support around 1985 or so and hearing music followed by a DJ who was actually there to work as the WordPerfect tech support DJ for those on hold. Now that was really cool.

These days, you go through a maze of voice command menus which tries to discourage you from talking to a person and then wait twenty minutes on hold to speak to someone – usually someone who barely speaks English and doesn’t have a clue what the problem is or how to solve it.

Why Customer Service Matters

I know why these companies have all these frustrating levels of voice prompts – too many people calling to check their balance or ask for the hours of the local store. Still, once they give you that basic information, it ought to be possible to talk to an actual human being instead of having to push ever more buttons, often in an endless loop which never lets you get to the agent to begin with.

And this is a shame because more sales are lost through bad customer service than almost any other issue. It’s a sad fact that happy people rarely take the time to write about their experiences online while angry people do so on a regular basis. This means that every bad customer service experience gets you one step closer to a Google SERP result where “[insert your company name here] sucks” brings up one warning after another to stay far, far away.

No Referrals Either

And it’s not just that you’ll end up with lots of angry reviews of your company online. You’ll also lose out on all the potential referrals from happy customers that you may have gotten. In an age of Twitter and Facebook, this is especially important since friends tend to ask each other if they’ve had good or bad experiences with company x.

And unlike spontaneous comments, where people rarely post their good experiences, in this case, people will tell their friends about companies they like. This means more business for you if you do your customer service the right way.

The Right Way to Do Customer Service

I know this is the title of the article and I kind of spent a long time setting this up, but the fact is that doing customer service the right way isn’t hard. It’s simply a matter of acting like a decent human being. I think the so called “Golden Rule” as espoused by Hillel the Elder and Jesus says it best. Hillel said, “that which is hateful to you, do not to others.” Jesus puts it slightly differently: “do unto others as you would have them do to you.

In other words, if you want to do customer service the right way, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were the customer, what would you honestly consider to be a reasonable resolution to the problem? Once you have this answer, you’ll know how to do customer service the right way.

12 thoughts on “The Right Way to Look at Customer Service

  1. Companies with bad customer service really turns me away. It is probably THE most important factor for me when using a company.

  2. Hey Yasir, I totally agree customer service is a lost art. And the funny thing is, it’s the only way to differentiate yourself from other companies.

  3. This is exactly my point. Well, mostly my point. There are times when you need to cut a customer lose because they are more trouble than they’re worth, but you need to be diplomatic about it and you need to be sure of your facts.

  4. A good philosophy. It doesn’t always work unfortunately ;). However, in most cases, I find that if you actually care to listen to the customer, you’ll at least avoid angry comments online.

  5. Exactly. And the funny thing is that because customer service has gotten so bad these days, it’s possible to differentiate yourself merely by showing up and actually answering the phone once in a while, even if you don’t bend over backwards to help your customer.

  6. But as I said to another poster, customer service has gotten to be so bad and so non existent today that we really have gotten to the point where even just answering the phone with a friendly voice is considered great customer service. It makes you wonder why more companies don’t try it as a way to gain market share…

    1. Very true. However, what’s really sad these days is that you no longer have to go the extra mile to make your customer service shine. Just acting like a decent human being is often all you need.

  7. It’s so true that when someone has a bad experience witha company, they will be the first to put a bad review online! You have to be so careful as a company and keep your customer service skills up to scratch!

    1. Absolutely. And as I said, the irony is that these days, just acting like a halfway decent human being without going overboard is enough to get you in the good graces of your customers. Makes you wonder why anyone wouldn’t want to do it…

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