TV ads tout it, fast food joints claim to do it, airlines announce it. Their love for the customer. As a small business we put a high, a very high, priority on client service. Results aside, it is our stock in trade…a good experience keeps our clients coming back – simple right? Here at Boom, we often wonder if it’s really not so simple after all.
As you can relate, my colleagues and I are often hobbled, or at least slowed, by the shortcomings of some of the customer service we get. Don’t get me wrong, most of our partners are amazing…amazing BECAUSE of their attention to detail and responsiveness. But you, dear reader, understand the world we live in…when we need it, we really need it now. However, now and then we are just left say “huh?” The lack of prompt answers to simple questions, the delay in providing a quote or details on a product or service. We marvel at the fact that well…it should be SO EASY. Basically as simple as: be responsive, be polite…heck, just hit reply. Answer an email even if you don’t have all the information, return a call even if you only have a minute. Maybe just acknowledge.
We, like many of you, are in a service business. We take great pride in treating our clients with respect, candor and (here it comes again) responsiveness. So …when we are the client or customer, whether in a business scenario or as a consumer, we tend to expect at minimum, the same consideration. Often, that seems an unrealistic expectation. But there is an upside to living in the real world as well as running a business: being reminded to pay attention to how we treat our clients. Remember, no matter how bad a day we’re having, our clients are just trying to get through their day too…here’s a list of four recent experiences that reminded me, when in doubt, remember the golden rule.
Retail clothing chain. Issue: Oblivious. The clerks on one of four floors of this store could simply not be bothered or distracted from each other. It was odd really, like the customers were interrupting the floor clerks’ social hour. Reminder: Listen. The client has a need, and they want us to know what it is so we can fulfill it.
Coffee shop. Issue: Condescending. Okay, my kids have confirmed that I am officially “out of touch” as far as cool goes. But does a complete stranger really need to reinforce that when I’m looking to hand over my cash to them? Reminder: Respect. The client is coming to us to ask, to learn, because, we might know something they don’t.
Job Candidate. Issue: Poor Manners. Great meeting, great chemistry, great fit. We send indication that we’d like to make an offer. Crickets. No reply. Zero follow up….did not get an email, a call, nada. Aren’t we hearing non-stop about the trials of the young grad or young staffer who can’t find a job? Reminder: Courtesy. Just like your mom always told you, people like to be acknowledged when they extend themselves. Say thanks.
Vendor. Issue: Under qualified/Unprepared. This is one way of putting it. My sense is that this issue is perhaps more lack of training, poor management, boredom, laziness or even apathy. You would think that the basics about your services: prices, data, examples, might be something you would, I don’t know, have handy? But time and time again we find ourselves nearly pulling teeth to get the information or replies from potential vendors in a timely fashion. This is how the sales process usually works: a customer finds you/you find them, they have a need, you have a solution, they require basic info to make a purchase, and you provide it. Reminder: Consistency. Make sure everyone in your organization knows how you want to communicate information to prospective clients. Everyone.
Ultimately, it’s life. We are all human. We all have bad days. But as a service business, the reminders are all around us. Take the high road, do the little things. Like your mother always said, do unto others…