Customer Service: Don’t Train This…

Because it’s idiotic! Really, don’t make it worse than it already is.

Customer service as we use to know it is getting to the point where we have to accept what we get, instead of a human-to-human exchange of what does us the most good, and actually helps us. What’s idiotic? Making appointments for customer service, especially when no one else is standing in line. I waited an hour at…I don’t really want to name names here, but the first part of their name says it’s the Best (which it isn’t–my opinion) and Buy (to assure the public that their prices are the “best buy”–not always–again, my opinion). To be fair, my so-called appointment was with the much touted Geek Squad, the super geniuses of computers. Of course, their failures reflect on the bigger company.

I didn't have a software or a hardware problem. I needed a smarter computer guy than me to push the right settings so my laptop could do what it is supposed to; we did buy it there. For smart computer person, five minutes max. Still, no one in line by the time I made my reservation for tomorrow because I didn't want to waste another hour waiting for one today. I get home and I have an e-mail confirming it with all the charming language, which didn’t work because I was already pissed and getting pisster (is that a word) by the minute.

This kind of customer service was quite the opposite of assuaging my negative feelings, making me feel more loyalty and positive toward the company, so loyal in fact I may recommend it to others. That’s exemplary customer service. Those days are numbered.

By the way, did I tell you I was a customer service manager for five U.S. States and the District of Columbia for eight years? Just sayin'. At least two of these customer service methods today drive me nuts. Like everyone, I have to tolerate some of the methods or I get nothing done.

The ones noted below assure me that we are becoming a society of deadheads who will accept what we are told about customer service procedurally. Most customer service is handed on via the comment section on a web site, e-mail, a web site’s frequently asked questions (FAQs), a talk with a representative that’s most likely a cybert (that’s kind of a dis-embodied robot–human voice–no body), e-mail or if you are very lucky you will be given a number to call. The voice you hear to move you through the system of several prompts is usually a soothing female voice. I'm not being sexist; it just is. Point of fact.

I ought to know, I wrote the book on what happens when humanity becomes a bunch of “deadheads” and let’s the cyberts take-over, but let’s save that for later.

So, what do we trainers do? I don’t know. You tell me. I don’t want turn into a deadhead. Is that anything like a zombie? It is getting close to Halloween.

Actually, I do have some thoughts as you knew I would. The above was part rant and part exaggeration, but I wanted to get everyone’s attention. People should walk away from customer service pleased not pissed, yet, we see it everyday. Is it economic shortcut? Someone isn't getting the message that word of mouth does a lot for a store, one way or the other. Someone in line told me that she had heard Best Buy was closing–all of them. Rumor of fact, I don’t know, but let a few people emphasize that it is a good idea and it will ensure its demise. I honestly doubt it because of its share of the market, but “appointments for customer service?”

Restaurants do it so much better. Send a steak back, the manager will come to your table to make sure it's cooked right; he or she might even throw in something extra like an appetizer or a dessert. The restaurant wants to make sure that the customer is more than satisfied, and will remember the positive experience. But a smile, genuine concern and willingness to help works as well.

I think we should do our part as trainers to not ignore customer service when we go in see a client to propose training, but we should ask questions, and make it part of the final analysis we see for our client. We have been doing without true exemplary customer service for so long we may have forgotten what it looks or even its true value to our clients. If they had an up and running customer service unit, we checked it off. This time test it to see it if passes the customer test (the upset, disappointed, frustrated and angry people test). If it doesn’t, mention its value to the client. Now, that would be selling feature for the company. Hit while it’s hot!

A disclaimer. This commentary is mine and mine alone, and the opinion expressed here is not influenced by The Free Management Library in any way.

As the Host of the Blog site, I ask that you take a look at my new blog that focuses on other topics than training. My training/speech blog is still out there, but I’m letting it die in cyber space. My best selling e-book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development is out. I need to tell you that I know Cave Man is not spelled that way and that is on purpose. The Cave is where we work, play and live. Read the book and you’ll get it. I hope to have two more following it soon. I also have a futuristic e-novel, Harry’s Reality, a look at what happens when society gives up control of the mismanaged dying planet to an evolving artificial intelligence. It is also available at any book store that sells e-books for direct downloads to your e-reader, and in any format directly through Smashwords. By the way on my blog site you’ll find snippets of the novel and a coupon for a free download of my novel through Smashwords.

Happy training.

For more resources about training, see the Training library. For more resources on Customer Services check the links here as well as our blog on Customer Service.

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