Is Customer Service a Thing of the Past?
The economy is bad and companies are losing money left and right. Wouldn’t you think one of their top priorities would be amazing customer service? Customer service is a means for a company to stand out and encourage people to buy from them instead of their competitors.
You would think this would be the case, but I can’t remember the last time I was given outstanding customer service. Just today, I walked into a retail store and wanted help locating a product. I was very nice and professional to the employee (whom I thought was supposed to help customers). All I got was a look of confusion, no eye contact, and a curt, “I don’t know.”
Really?! Is this the way to increase sales?
All it takes is one unhappy customer to tell a friend; bad reviews spread like wildfire. If customer service like this keeps up, we won’t have to worry about customer service employees acting this way – businesses which allow that kind of “service” will have to close their doors forever.
I remember the old saying, “Service with a smile.” Now, I would settle for just plain attentive service – they can keep the smiles, as long as they’re doing their jobs.
As a staffing expert, I can’t help but wonder why hiring managers aren’t asking job candidates if they have a short fuse or a long fuse. What if an interviewer said, “We take customer service very seriously here; if you’re hired, how are you going to contribute to our high standards?” I don’t think anyone is asking those questions – otherwise we’d be getting better customer service everywhere we went.
Research has shown that customers can tell within 10 seconds if they will have a good or bad customer experience.
For all the loyal followers of my blog, I challenge you to either walk into a store or call a company for service and later think about what your experience was like. What kind of body language did you see when you asked for help? What tone of voice did the customer service person use? Did they act as if your questions were putting them out, or did they try to help you cheerfully?
What would you have done differently if you were the salesperson? Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes can challenge us to see things from other people’s perspectives; when we observe how people serve customers, we can be more aware of what we would do in similar situations.
As someone who has made a career of service and selling, I found this customer service nugget of wisdom so true that I leave it on my computer: “It takes months to find a customer and seconds to lose one.”
Customer service today is a lost art, but it should be the number one priority on employers’ and employees’ lists. A top doctor is only as good as the receptionist who answers his phones; the computer company who’s a leader in software or hardware is nothing without stellar customer service representatives. In my opinion, corporations should have on-going customer service training and challenge their employees with incentives.
How would you rate your customer service skills? Have you had an outstanding (or horrible) customer service experience? Join the conversation by sharing your experiences (but please, don’t use names in the interest of protecting the not-so-innocent) in the comment area below.
In my next post, I’ll define customer service, outline which skills are necessary to be good at it and give you a few tips to improve your customer awareness.
“Satisfied” image courtesy of Woodsy at RGBStock.com