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Solving the problem
The problem of bad customer service can be fixed, but the solution must first come from the top of the food chain. Company presidents, owners and managers must make the consistent delivery of excellent customer service a mandate, right next to increasing profits and reducing costs. They must turn that culture of saying no into a culture of saying yes. I would like to address this point specifically. Far too often, we find ourselves saying the following:
“It’s not my job”
“The company policy is …”
“I don’t know”
“I can’t help you” (which usually means I don’t want to help you)
“My supervisor is not here” (when the supervisor is right in the office) or
“Our company is only marketing to new customers.” (A representative of a large telecommunications provider in New York actually said this to me recently.)
These are all “no” statements — all negative in nature. Look at all the excuses we give our customers. If you think about it, they are really excuses for those customers to do their business elsewhere. It’s almost as if customer-service people are trained to say no first, which is not the case.
What’s the worst that could happen if you actually said yes to customers? They might leave happy, come back and refer a friend. Now that would be really nice, right? But we mess this up every day by being negative.
Try this for a week or a month — instead of saying no, say yes. You will see an immediate shift in customer satisfaction. Remember: You don’t have to say yes to ridiculous situations; use common sense.
When you go out to shop or eat and there is a customer survey to complete, take the form and complete it. Take the time to fill it out. Be honest and precise, not nasty. Don’t embellish. Sometimes people can’t see themselves unless we point it out to them. This gives them an opportunity to change and, in some cases, to call you for additional feedback. I know I appreciate when someone gives me feedback, whether positive or negative.
You have to be open to constructive criticism. How else can you grow as a person or a professional?
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