Provide Excellence

Do any of you ever want to call out bullshit when you hear it only to realize that it isn’t your most brilliant move? I think we all have those days. If you work in customer service – you will understand precisely where I’m coming from when I say this because undoubtedly you’ve heard all the excuses before. As a manager, I have to make past due calls frequently. My favorite reason is when customers tell me they will call or make a payment by a particular day. That’s fine when it happens, but people will often tell you what they think you want to hear to get you off their back.  Rarely do they come through with what they tell you.

For example, I have one customer that depends on her disability check to make her payments. She is always a month behind, and her phone number changes as many times as most people change their socks. She tells me she will make her payment on the 3rd of every month. Fine. When I call her on the 3rd, she tells me she will call me back. I can keep track of her phone number when she calls me to copy the number off of the caller id. She rarely calls back, and when she does, I’m usually at lunch. I’ve learned to take her call even if I’m at lunch because if I don’t, we won’t get her payment, and she’ll end up in an auction. I know I’m not the only one that bends over backward for customers. If you are among the many people who do this, I can attest that you are underappreciated and used more than we would like to admit. 

Why does good customer service matter? It’s a dying breed. When you go to a retail shop or restaurant, the last thing in the world you want is terrible treatment. Your money spends just as well as someone else. Most people work hard for their money and do things to indulge themselves and their loved ones. When I go to a spa, I know I’m forking over some cash, but to me, it’s worth it to get the tension out of my body for a small amount of time. Unless you work in customer service, you will not comprehend how much people can be asinine. Here are a few good rules of thumb hacks that might help you deal with people.  

user and password: concept of how a customer represents a set of expectations
  1. Maintain a positive attitude. There is nothing worse than drama feeding drama. When you maintain a positive attitude, it becomes infectious. Killing others with kindness goes a long way in defusing temperamental situations.  
  2. Know your product – When you know your product and what services you offer and are confident, it’s incredible how well you can perform. I’ve dealt with some people in various settings who didn’t know what products they offered, and the experience was less than desirable. It’s one thing to be new to a job but to be indifferent to a job spells problems. People can spot a fake smile or complete bullshit a mile away. Don’t think for a minute that others don’t pay attention to the details. Sometimes your customers know more than you do. Have an open mind and be willing to let them mouth off.  
  3. Creatively problem-solve. This hack is one tip I love. Power comes to those who think on their feet quickly. Using common-sense isn’t always second nature to some, but you sometimes save a sale and reputation when you figure out ways to smooth difficult situations.  
  4. Respond quickly. I struggle with this sometimes because there are people who test my nerves. For example, I have one customer who complains at the drop of a coin. She got mad because her rent went up. She got agitated because she was late paying a bill and got charged a late fee. Then she had the gall to call me and explain how we were over-charging when we are still the best price in town for RV parking. Since she hasn’t moved out, I’m guessing she found this out and doesn’t want to be embarrassed. I have to watch my tongue sometimes, and that can be a considerable challenge. However, when you know that a situation has escalated, sometimes it’s best to respond quickly to calm things down.  
  5. Personalize your service. One of the things that draw me to a place is the people in it. If the service is memorable, and the staff makes you feel welcome, that is one of the best advertisements. Impressions are everything. When little things happen, I remember those acts of kindness, making me want to return. If a customer service rep acknowledges me by recognizing who I am and what might appeal to me, that’s a bonus. Sometimes it’s the little touches that leave the most significant imprint.  
  6. Help customers help themselves.  Everyone needs to feel that they are a part of something. No one wants to feel dumb or insignificant. It’s essential to help customers recognize their role in your business or brand. If you offer food for sale, try sampling out some of your products. It brings knowledge to the customer about new products and services you provide. If you are in a retail store setting, you may want to offer discounts or something to entice customers to keep coming back.  
  7. Focus support on the customer.   This item is challenging because customers can be demanding and assertive. The key is to keep your cool and offer some help because you don’t know what customers are dealing with in their lives. This scenario is where the kind actions are beneficial.  
  8. Actively listen.  Anyone can talk and blow off steam. Do you understand why the customer is pissed? Not everyone is looking for something in return, but doing nothing for a pissed-off person can be a volatile decision. You don’t have to lose your shirts in a business to smooth complex transactions. The customer isn’t always right, but they can make or break a business. Big companies keep forgetting this fact.  
  9. Keep your word.  Believe it or not, this makes all the difference in the world. Even though people’s word doesn’t have the same value it once did, it’s still essential. We are all identified by our actions. People tend to remember what you tell them. Be willing to own it if you make a mistake and accept responsibility.  

The biggest thing is to remember that customers can be great or complex. You don’t have to let them ruffle your feathers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all the years I’ve worked in customer service, it’s that you do catch better opportunities with kindness than with venom. Have a great day, everyone.  

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