Rules of Customer Service and being a Good Customer
I decided to take the week after Christmas off this year, as I usually do. This has become an annual tradition to help me recharge my batteries and get ready for the next year. This year, as usual, I got a raft of gift cards for Christmas and this week I went to brave the horror that is after Christmas shopping to look for some bargains.
This year, I have taken a ton of pictures. In fact, nearly 5000 pictures since I got my new camera. Just this Christmas alone, between my camera and video camera I created over 10 gigs of content. I decided to go into a chain of camera stores, Henry’s. This chain has a huge selection and while I got my camera at Vistek, my gift card was for Henrys. Admittedly I am not the world’s greatest photographer (big shocker there) but I still have a lot of pro gear and am getting better with it all the time. I usually keep my camera on auto focus and let it do the work. I went to go look at lenses, and quickly felt belittled by the clerk who wanted to show off how much more he knew about my camera than I did. I was in the shop and probably would have dropped nearly 1000 bucks on a new lens had the clerk not made me feel like I was a 10 year old.
There I was, a customer with a 200 dollar gift card to spend in this shop and he couldn’t close the sale. It got me thinking about good customer service. On the flipside, customers can be rude and belligerent themselves. They lie, and manipulate in-store policies to get something that they probably shouldn’t receive. During Christmas shopping I had to tell a fellow customer to stop being a dick when he berated a clerk for something that was clearly not her fault.
This is a set of rules I have developed for both customer service and for the customer to follow:
Rules of Customer Service
- Don’t belittle the customer – It is your job to know more than the customer. That said, don’t make them feel like they are 5 years old. You need to be relatable, helpful and human to the customer.
- Work on behalf of both the customer and company – You need to operate for the best interests of both the customer and your company. You are the liaison between both groups and will earn a lot of loyalty and esteem if you try to find creative solutions to help the customer within the guidelines of the company.
- Don’t repeat the same mistakes – If you are seeing repeatable issues that are hindering customer experience for a wide group of customers, it is your job to find a solution with management to address them. If you don’t address those issues you are not doing your job as a front line employee to improve the experience.
- Upsell to the benefit of the customer – Sometimes a customer doesn’t know what they need. Sometimes you need to upsell the values of a more expensive solution if it solves a longer term need. There is nothing worse than underselling them and feeling like they haven’t got something that will fulfill their long term needs.
- Be there for your customer not your own cellphone – There is nothing that annoys me more than a customer service representative, too busy on their own cell phone not to notice me. Stop texting your boyfriend and/or girlfriend and help the customer.
Rules of Being a Customer
- Don’t lie and cheat your way to save 10 dollars– If I had a dollar for every time I watched a customer try to cheat and manipulate their way to marginal savings, I would be a very rich man. I am not talking about negotiation, I am talking about sketchy returns, complaining that you missed a sale etc. I find a lot of problems are as a result of one of two things:
- A customer not paying attention or,
- A customer being lazy and not taking advantage of a deal, then complaining about it after they missed it.
- Don’t bully – There is a difference between being assertive and bullying and it is a fine line. Many times I have seen people being rude and belligerent for the wrong reasons.
- Remember they are people too – Sometimes it is all too easy to see the people on the other side of the counter as people fulfilling a role and not people. The second you don’t see them as people you can easily treat them worse than they likely deserve.
- Be responsible with social media – I find a lot of customers are using social media like a hostage negotiation situation. If you don’t give me what I want I will make a stink of social media. I admittedly have used this tactic before. That said I realize upon using it, that I need to be careful not to cry wolf and complain every time something hasn’t gone my way. On the flip side when someone has given me excellent customer service, I will be the first to hop on Twitter and Facebook and call it out. I would guard against being quick to scorn, but slow to appreciate good behaviour.
Summary: The customer service and customer relationship is a complicated one. Both parties need to operate responsibly in order to achieve their needs. These guidelines should help both parties work in a constructive fashion to that end.