Sunday, December 05, 2004

Customer Service

I am going to keep this post to a minimum. I could write a book about customer service, and lack there of (e.g. Sprint).

So many companies skimp on customer service now-a-days, and then turn around and wonder why customers and employees are not loyal now-a-days. Its simple. People are people. People have feelings. People are ego-centric. This is necessarily so for survival reasons, but I'll refrain from getting into a sociology discussion. People need to feel special. People need people to care about them. If you feel like someone cares about you then you will be loyal on some level or another depending on how much you value that person's ability to add value to your life.

But most companies (and americans) don't care about making customers and employees feel special anymore. (nor do shitty managers and coworkers...why are you friends with alot of the people you're friends with? because they care about you and your life to whatever extent you expect them to). But for the sake of keeping this short, I'll move on.....

Let me share 2 customer service experiences I've had lately.

1) Bloomberg. Bloomberg for those of you who don't know is a standalone internet device that existed before the internet. Anyone who has seen a stock market guy looking at a computer with several screens has seen a derivation of a bloomberg terminal. It provides up-to-the-second extremely accurate information on nearly EVERYTHING in the financial services world, as well as dictionarys, calculators, encyclopedias, and any other info source you need. So I was at work trying to create a report that eventually saved my department 8 hours a month. But I was stuck on how to do a function. So I emailed Bloomberg. Less than 30 minutes later I was called back. How many times do you contact a company and are happy to hear back a few days later, or at all. Well Bloomberg didn't email back, they called back within 30 minutes. They asked questions to understand what my goals were, as well as my skill level. They mentioned my name several times courteously. They later proceeded to walk me through how to create complex mathematical models. They didn't just make sure they answered my question, they made sure I understood the process. They didn't say they couldn't do what I wanted. They found a solution, and then taught me how to use it. They were extremely polite. They followed up with an email a few hours later and said if I needed anymore help to call this girl's personal extension. Another day I was creating another model. This is not day-to-day stuff for most users, these are complex functions. So they flew someone out from New York to train me. Bloomberg is not only an amazing tool, but their customer service is mesmerizingly quick and thorough and polite. They made me feel like they cared about me. They solved my problem. They got stuff done.

2) Autozone. My check engine light came on. I went to Autozone and they did a computer diagnostic for me for free. I am not mechanical at all. I told the guy who was about my age that. So he walked me through what he was saying. He took me inside and opened a manual and made a copy of it so I could fix my car. He made sure I learned it. He gave me tools also. He didn't sell me the most expensive product. He consistently made eye contact with me (I have friends who can't even do this). Eye contact makes the other person feel like you are actually listening, even if you aren't. Well he ended up having to do 4 more computer diagnostics because what I fixed wasn't the final solution....(we were doing the cheapest fix first each time). Each time he was more polite then the last. He coached me. So I shook his hand when I was all done and gave him a handful of cash and said thanks, and that I appreciated his help. He gave the cash right back and said witha smile and eye contact that he does this all day, and not to worry about it. I would hire that guy in a second of I could hire someone. He got stuff done. He made eye contact. He cared about me. He cared about fixing the problem. He had integrity.

If you want to make an impact in your friends lives or your customers lives or your co-workers life, then do this one thing. Care about them. If you want your friends to stay friends with you, or your wife or husband to always love you, then care about them. Look them in the eye. Listen when they talk. Ask how their day went and listen, or how something exclusive to their life is going and listen.

Care about people.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was reading your post and started thinking...
Why is there a lack of customer service these days? In my opinion there will always be lack of customer service as long as there is employee dis-service. Sure, you will have the nice/professional person every now and then that will provide great customer service in any situation but 7 times out of 10 I see my self being more courteous than someone "customer serving" me. This employee dis-service could be from their low pay, how the company treats them personally, company culture, etc... For instance the person who is checking you out in the grocery store, McDonalds, or any other service industry scenario; 1.) They don't make much so they are mulling that over and are unhappy in general about their job, why be happy? 2.) Their job isn't exactly promote self actualization, who am I? I am a checker at Schnucks!!! not exactly on the path to CEO. 3.) They have management that treats them like crap and their job isn't enjoyable. 4.) They have no customer relation skills.
To start fixing this problem companies with bad customer service need to start promoting the worth of their employee. For instance, I worked at Schnucks for five years and they were horrible to their employees for whatever reason. I never took this out on any customers. If management asked me to stay an hour or two past my shift to help keep up w/ the endless checkout lines they never asked me kindly to stay they pretty much told me i was going to stay or just wouldn't send a replacement checker out to get me until the store cleared out. I knew that an extra register open meant more money in John Q. Schnucks pockets and customer service would improve due to faster checkout time. They never stated any time that a single employee muchless a group (the store as a whole) made any difference to the success of the company. I knew that i did make a difference and that the store did in the big picture, but i've always had a business sense like that, most people working at minimum wage jobs don't. So i've felt like totally being a dick hundreds of times but i chose not to even though i was dumped on by people trying to use bogus coupons, lie about prices, and just being plain rude. But you learn in life that people like to dump their problems on other people and thats what it all boils down to. Turn the other cheek as your mothers would say. So before you decide to take a dump on a customer ask yourself what did they do to you? If the answer is nothing don't crap on them. But if they crapped on you first, then I see an excuse to do it back but in 99% of situations you shouldn't. Leave the 1% up to your imagination. So i guess people are not loyal to other and their company for the same reason as people providing bad customer service. Boil it down to the most simple level, people have feelings like greg says.

So like Greg says.... be nice to people.


Mon Dec 06, 12:10:00 PM EST  

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