A couple of weeks ago my roommate and I decided to paint our spare room. We went to the nearest store with a hardware and paint section and began to browse the shelves for brilliant white paint. Not having much luck in figuring out what certain white paints looked like we sought help for a representative of that department to come help. The rep came up not making eye contact and stood hunched over asking gruffly what we needed. Once we explained what we needed he rolled his eyes and proceeded to walk down the isle where we were looking for the white paint. “is this a brilliant white paint?”
“Yeah, yeah should work just fine.”
My roommate and I looked at each other thinking I don’t think he knows that he’s talking about.
We left with other paint supplies, painted until our heart’s content until we ran out of paint. We still had to do a 2nd coat and paint the inside of the closet. So we again traveled to the same store to find more of the paint we needed. That same rep was there, more irritated as ever and when we walked by he didn’t say a word. We looked up and down on the shelves for the same type of white and couldn’t find another can. We waited for him to finish up with another client until he finally acknowledged us. Again we presented what we needed and he proceeded to go up and down the aisle to find it. He showed us a different kind of paint with a different white and said this is the closest I got.
“We need the exact one you sold us earlier if you guys have it,” I replied.
Oh right. Ah. Well, this is what I got.”
“Could we mix it?” asked genuinely
“Ah, yeah if I knew what numbers to press into our paint mixer.”
“Alright, so what are our options?” I asked
“Umm let me see.” He proceeded to look at the shelf and upon the upper shelving. “Ah, I think the other store up north may have it.”
“Cool, is there a way to find out?” I asked patiently.
“Oh right. I can call to find out. I’ll be right back.”
About 20 minutes later he comes back and says the store up north had it. I honestly didn’t have much going on that day, just wanted to finish painting to the room. We had all the time in the world. And patience a practiced skill I had plenty of time to sit and wait for him to help us and find an answer.
So we took a short drive to the store up north. The story above was an example of poor customer service. I felt more of nuisance being there. Sure I understand he was working multiple departments and he may have been also having a very bad day but with any customer that comes in one has got to treat them as someone of importance and with a sense of urgency. After all, that is what customer service is, serving the customer.
Having worked customer service type jobs for over 15 years I feel I have a handle on it and feel the need to pass on my knowledge for those who are going into a customer service role for the first time and help sharpen skills for those who have been in it for a while.
Acknowledge the customer– a simple, “Hi, we’ll be right with you” or “It’ll be a moment. Please have a seat.” If you are finishing up something or waiting on another customer. The simple acknowledgment shows you are engaging and aware they are there. This also sets the first impression of the company.
You are the face of the company– any person who is behind that first desk you see in any company or person in the lobby is essentially the face of the company. However, they greet, help or not help can be viewed from the customer perspective as this is how this company treats its customers and employees. Whatever is said in the open, appropriate or inappropriate comments can also be taken as views of the company. So it’s best to be on your best behavior when one is public facing. What you may say in private, may not be okay to say in a public or professional setting.
Greet each customer genuinely– No matter what kind of day you are having, one has to pretend to put on a good face on for the customer. If you helped them one time or multiple times treat them how you want to be treated when you visit a company and buy products or use their services.
Listen to their needs– actively listen to your customer. Restating what their needs back to them and once everything is complete summarizing the steps you did to full fill their needs.
Provide a client with options and solutions– A customer hates hearing there are no options. This isn’t true there are always options
So what if you don’t know the answer– it’s okay to say, “I don’t know, let find me out from someone who does.” Honesty is the best. Be honest with your client if you are unsure but also provide options on how to get the answer. Telling someone the wrong information could jeopardize your job and your reputation with your boss, the company and mostly the customer.
Warm transfer– in person or over the phone its best to bring in the next person who can better help your customer by giving the next person a short summary on what the customer is looking for and see that person can assist them. Then transferring them by introducing the customer to the next representative that can help.
What was your best/worse customer service experience? What did you learn from it?
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Keep kicking and smiling! – TJ Banski