Is Your Food Good, Yes?

I was asked once to review some automated programming services a state was offering. Funny thing, there was a statement that said, “If someone is available to answer your call, they will–if not call call later.” Good customer service? Someone thought so. I was appalled.

This has to do with both customer service and training.

Some days are meant for pet peeves and I think you may agree with mine when you’ve read this. Tell me you hate it when someone presumes you agree with them when it comes to the quality of their own customer service. Besides the little tidbit above, where the server asks you the pad question while your mouth is full and it’s just easier to shake your head in the affirmative than deal with uneaten food. Besides the server is already gone after giving the company the answer they want to hear, seemingly never to be heard from since.

One day, maybe I’ll pretend to eat and not have a full mouth when the server comes by and let he or she have it, providing it’s warranted, of course.

No offense intended to my friends down under, but I recall many years ago when I visited Sydney, I bought a soda in a subway kiosk and received the price and thanks all in one breath. After that the transaction was over. By the way the kiosk wasn’t busy so I think this manner was simply a business or cultural practice. Again, no offense intended, many people (many Americans included) do not do well on the one-to-one or face-to-face sale.

This is only one example relating to customer service and training. The point I am trying to make is not to tout your excellent customer service when it is not and don’t have customers agree to fill out a document asking the questions only you want to have answered.

How many times have you encountered online, the customers service automated system that gives you a multitude of choices, buttons to push and other numbers to call or websites to locate and “good” customer service starts over. Really, now? Is good customer service defined by eventually getting you to a person who can help; more often it has nothing really to do with the customer but the company that wants to economize time and people who work for them. Its system–all the while they are bragging what a good job they are doing in customer service and getting your “buy in.”

I don’t think customer service is so much about getting “buy-in” as it is satisfying customers with more than the right answer.

I may be getting old but I still want to dial one number, talk to a person and be forwarded to someone who can help if this person cannot. If I have to continue to surf the web, write phone numbers down and otherwise continue my research, I have not received good customer service and am ticked that I have to listen to someone tell me what great customer service they have every time I have push another button.

For those training customer service, we have to ask ourselves what is good customer service. I know some companies that say getting the customer the answer they want if we can help with a minimum of personal contact is the essence. But then there is the going over-the-top customer service that makes people come back to your company that is a joy to work with. Good customer service should make it easy for the customer and not “a problem” for the organization. Of course, the only way you know if you’ve done well is to ask us? Is it? Of course not. If business is up and many more people than a stated statistic about surveys will be more willingly take it.

For my money customer service is about people not how fast you resolve their problems on your terms. Talk to me. Tell me you are working on it. Assure me you’ll fix the problem, but don’t give me another phone number to call. Call me back personally; that will really impress me. Corporations should know better, but then if they all seem to gang up and say “automated is the way to go” we’ve lost.

What has this to do with training? Well, it appears that training could have a hand in training what good customer service is or should be. You know, the world class stuff. That would mean telling a client a product or plan is not good customer service when it is not. That client may come back and say to you, if they come back at all, that you steered them wrong. Then again, maybe it is management’s fault all along in proposing the cheaper side of customer service–a win-lose–that I hate to talk about.

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Carol Davison

As a Federal employee I attempt to put enough of the right information out of the web, and have links at the bottom of my email so that the phone doesn’t ring. Of course I can’t answer the phone every time it does ring, but my messages says “If you leave your name, number and message I can work on your need immediately upon my return.” That way I can call my customers back with an ANSWER rather than another query.

Jack Shaw

I have always hated the pad answers that comes with the question. It’s a loaded question. The best thing anyone can do in customer service or any job that deals with people–especially a professional speaker–as in my case–if there is a question I can’t answer at the moment or later, Carol has it right: “I can call my customers back with an ANSWER rather than another query.”

Jack Shaw

By the way, also like Carol, I always tell people if I have misdirected them somehow to come back to me and I’ll keep trying to help them find the correct answer. Once asked, my job doesn’t stop until the question is answered and the inquirer is satisfied (not necessarily pleased), but understands the answer.