What Ever Happened to Customer Service?

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It happens all the time and I’m beginning to feel like I have a “customer service bad luck charm” hanging around my neck.

I go to the supermarket, and the checkout person spends more time talking to her coworker about how much she hates her job, than she spends thanking me for my business.

I call a contractor to fix a problem with the roof, and he never calls back.

I wait on hold for 30 minutes before the phone company picks up my call. Or worse, I get a recording that says, “Our phone lines are busy, try calling us back later.”

We are told over and over again that we have to be unique to catch the attention of prospective customers. But in most industries and professions, you aren’t all that unique. (There are hundreds of small business coaches!) Here’s one way you can shine above the rest: good customer service.

We’re becoming immune to poor customer service, probably because we receive bad service so often that we’re not expecting anything better. Even our colleagues will take other phone calls while on the phone with us, or read their email while we’re trying to have a conversation. It’s an epidemic.

Instead of getting angry and frustrated at businesses that don’t treat you right, create a list of “Things I’ll never do to my customers or colleagues.” Do everything you can to focus solely on your customers when you’re communicating with them. Send them thank-you cards after you start working together, or when a colleague sends you a referral.

These small things do matter and will make you shine…and bring you more business!

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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How to Keep Clients Returning Again and Again

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In this episode of Ask Karyn Anything, Delia asks, “How can I get clients to keep returning?”

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u99yU4kB6uU

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What I Learned from the Airport Customer Experience

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customer service is everythingI usually fly out of either Philadelphia or Newark airports. They’re both “okay” airports, better than some, worse than others.

But when I flew into Las Vegas airport last week, I was unaware that I’d have the airport customer-centric experience of my life. I’m not naive — I know that airports are all about moving people and luggage as efficiently as possible. But they’ve created a system that works both for the airport as a business AND for the customer.

First thing that happens, as you’re exiting the plane, they display for you which luggage carousel your luggage will arrive at. What a relief! Many airports make you search for this information instead of handing you the information at exactly the logical time you’ll be wanting it.

Next, the bathrooms. If you’ve been in airport bathrooms, you know that they’re not the cleanest or best maintained places on earth. Not true in Las Vegas. The bathroom was sparkling clean and in perfect repair. The faucets work, the soap dispenser works, the towel dispenser works. I’m in bathroom heaven.

Luggage is picked up in a central location for all terminals. The airport has an efficient system for moving lots of people to the luggage area without delay or long walks. (Well, “long walks” in any airport is relative, but you get my point.)

Finally, to my delight, there was an employee at the luggage carousel, lifting up each piece of luggage as it arrived and putting it handle-up so that people could easily grab their suitcase without struggle.

Each step along the way, I was delighted by these simple things. And it reminds me how my customers deserve the same treatment. From the way we answer emails or the phone, to how we invoice customers, every step, every contact matters.

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What Is "Cream of Tartar??"

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I was in the grocery store the other day, standing near the customer service counter. A woman in her late 30s came up to the counter and asked, “Where can I find Cream of Tartar? My son needs it for a science project.”

The customer service person (who was in her early 20s) looked lost. She didn’t know what Cream of Tartar was either. I piped up and told her it was in the baking aisle, and that it was a white powder in a bottle.

Cream of Tartar, for those who are curious, is used for baking. It’s been around for nearly 200 years (or possibly more). Baking powder is made up of baking soda plus cream of tartar. I can remember my grandmother and mother using it, and every Christmas I dutifully buy a bottle of it to bake Christmas cookies.

So why didn’t this woman know what it was? And why didn’t the grocery store employee know what it was? Because, according to an article I read recently, this current generation is the first generation of people who don’t know how to cook or bake. They use pre-packaged foods and microwave them (or order out). Their mothers and fathers didn’t cook, so they never learned how.

Lesson For The Business Owner: Just because you sell something doesn’t mean that people:

  • Know what it is
  • Know what it’s used for
  • Know where to find it
  • Know how to use it in their daily life

The key here isn’t to bash the generation of people who don’t know how to cook. It’s to understand that you, as the small business owner, have to pay attention to your customers’ needs, and educate them if necessary.

The moral of the story is:

  1. Know what your customers need (instead of guessing)
  2. Educate them on your products and services so they undertand why and how they can use them.
  3. If they aren’t going to use your products in the originally-intended fashion, figure out other creative uses for them (like a science project) or dump the services and products and find new ones that fulfill a need

And next time you go into the baking aisle, take a look around. It just might be a whole new world for you and a strong reminder of generational changes affecting a whole industry!

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