QUESTION: Which is Worse? Receiving no customer service, or bad customer service?
ANSWER: To me, they’re one in the same.
And please do not say, “This is California, we don’t say ‘Yes Sir’ and ‘Yes Mam’.
Because I’ll say to that, bull shit!
Let’s start with the basics:
Here’s what Wikipedia says about customer service: Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.
According to Jamier L. Scott, “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.
Customer service should be provided by a person (e.g., sales and service representative). It says a person; not a computer, not a list of questions, and not an email.
In the book Rules to Break and Laws to Follow, it says that “customers have memories. They will remember you, whether you remember them or not.” Further, “Customer trust can be destroyed at once by a major service problem, or it can be undermined one day at a time, with a thousand small demonstrations of incompetence.”
From the point of view of an overall sales process, customer service plays an important role in an organization’s ability to generate income and revenue. From that perspective, customer service should be included as part of an overall approach to systematic improvement.
I was told this early on in my retail career: A customer who has a good, or even great experience with your store, may or may not tell anyone about it. But, a customer who has a bad experience with your store will tell everyone they know. Nothing has more true than that, as I’ve watched myself do that very thing.
Take this example as an experiment and see for yourself: Watch your own discussions about customer service, taking note of how often you’re in a conversation where your relating bad customer service experience, versus that of a good customer service experience.
It’s the same for business, good things are rarely made mention of; but be certain that the bad things will be shared.
One often hears that the quality and level of customer service has decreased, or is non-existent in recent years, and if so, it has be attributed to a lack of support or understanding at the executive and middle management levels of a corporation and/or a customer service policy.
Here’s a real life example:
I’m was at a Starbucks in Santa Fe, NM, and I ordered a Latte. I wait. And I wait.
I walked over to the counter and saw that there was a drink sitting there.
“Is this my latte?” I asked the barista.
He looked up from a steaming pitcher of milk, and furrowed his brow. Without making eye contact with me he said, “I called your name.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you,” I said, and picked up my drink.
Then I said, “Thank you.”
There was no response from the barista, and still no eye contact.
“Humm,” I muttered to myself.
“Excuse me, I said thank you,” I repeated still standing in front of him.
He looked up from behind the machine, loooked towards me, but not at me, and almost inaudibly said, “No problem.”
I stood there, staring at him for a moment, and then asked him, “Why would you say that?”
“Say what?” he asked, clearly irritated, his eyes finally locking onto mine.
“No problem,” I answered. “Why would you say ‘no problem’ when I said ‘thank you’?”
“What? What should I say?” he asked.
“You’re welcome,” I answered him.
“Why would I say that?” he asked.
“Because it’s polite.”
I left the store, resisting the urge to shake my head in disgust.
What I should have said was this:
I’m a customer and I’m patronizing the business where you work. My doing business with your store pays your salary, and keeps the doors open, thereby insuring that you have a place to work. Therefore, it’s incumbent on you, as an employee of this business, to thank me for my business. You should have said “thank you” to me upon serving my drink. At the very least you should have said “you’re welcome” when I said “thank you.”
And if I could get to the Starbucks manager for that store, I would finish the paragraph above with, “Is there any question as to this lesson in ‘Business Customer Service 101’?”
But I had to ask her, “How do I grow my own?”
We teach about product quality and construction to all of our employees. If a sales meeting is focused on a recent market buy, we show photos of the furniture that were purchased, the fabric, and the finish. We pass the actual fabric sample around for everyone to touch. We discuss the styling, the fabric content, and the price, for both the furniture and the fabric. Some fabrics cost as much as $650/per yard, so it’s important that everyone know this and why, especially the delivery crew, as they’re the ones who will be handling it. Our delivery crews are taught to understand their importance to the entire selling process, and are always included in the sales meeting.
To learn more about Ebby Halliday, read her new book, Ebby Halliday, The First Lady of Real Estate.
It’s her autobiography, recently penned by this 98 year old dynamo, who still drives herself to the office everyday!
As I researched customer service, I Googled “Starbucks Customer Service Training”, and got pages of sites. As I went through at least 25 sites, not one of the customer service articles, either by Starbucks or some other entity, featured customer service as it refers to politeness and proper handling of customers. Most sites focused on Starbucks training of barista’s, not as in proper etiquette, but in proper preparation of the drinks.
Not one of the sites focused on how to teach employees or barsita’s to remain cool under pressure in high traffic times or locations, and there wasn’t a word on any of the listings about good old manners. Not a single word!
So here’s what I learned about Starbucks customer service training for their employees: Their main focus is to give the customer the exact same experience each time that customer is in the store. So, if you get some punk kids with no manners running one of their stores, then you can be ensured of having the same lousy experience every time you visit that store.
What a brilliant plan!