An article written by Michael Hess for CBS Money Watch serves as a reminder that customer service really is not customer service when done begrudgingly. In the article, If You Do Something For A Customer, Do It Happily, Hess relates a story about a very poor customer service experience that could have been completely different had the service representative been polite and cheerful about the service her company was providing.
Isn’t it so true? Everyone has had a number of “poor customer service experiences” where the situation was drastically worsened by the attitude of the service rep. The problem soon escalates to become much more than the original issue with the company’s product or service you’ve purchased – it becomes a matter of respect and courtesy.
I am certainly not trying to cast a bad light on those in the customer service industry – I have had the pleasure of dealing with many remarkable representatives over the years who have gone above and beyond to provide excellent customer service. And I fully understand that it’s a hard job; just as most of us have experienced poor customer service, most of us would probably admit to having also dealt poorly with a service rep at one time or another! Even if you have flawless patience and an everlasting positive attitude, most likely you’ve at least witnessed a customer service rep receiving some pretty rough treatment from an irate customer. It’s not a job I envy.
If you are in a position where you offer customer service (and we all are), don’t make the mistake, like the service rep in Michael Hess’s story, of offering some form of appeasement but with a bad attitude and only after dragging your feet. We all know what it feels like to receive something from someone who has a begrudging attitude. It could be when your spouse agreed to take you to that concert, but complained the whole time. Or when your coworker covered your shift, but made it very clear how big of a sacrifice it was. It doesn’t mean as much when it’s not done cheerfully.
The same is true in customer service. Even if you ultimately get the solution you were looking for, if the service rep was rude about it, it’s still a bad experience. It doesn’t matter if you got all your money back, a brand new product, and a coupon for next time – if you had to deal with a jerk, you’re not going to be pleased. On the other hand, even if an ideal solution was not reached, if the service rep was extremely nice and courteous and tried really hard to make things right, while you might not be completely satisfied, you’re generally going to feel that it was a good customer service experience.
At the end of his article, Michael Hess offers 4 points of advice for service reps when giving the customer something:
- Do it quickly
- Never insist you can’t if you can
- Do it happily
- Don’t qualify it
Yes, customer service is about offering a solution to a problem. But often the focus should be less on the solution and more on how it is offered.