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Avoid Assumptions That Undermine Customer Service

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on December 16, 2010

Great service assures you keep customers and allows you to charge a premium for your product. But when trying to achieve consistently good service, most business owners make three mistakes:
1. Assuming front-line employees are the cause of most bad service. Almost all employees come to work wanting to do a good job. What you are telling them to do and say leads to dissatisfaction.

2. Assuming everyone wants warm, fuzzy personal service. The majority of customers are not visiting you for their social interaction of the day. They want to get something done and move on.

3. Assuming that answering the phone promptly is the key to customer satisfaction. People will wait on hold for up to a minute or more if they then get great service. What happens after the phone is answered is most important.

What should you do to remedy these mistaken assumptions?

1. Ask your employees what you are telling them to do or say that they can’t defend and that makes customers unhappy. Then try to either change the process or give the employees a clear, believable answer they can provide the customer as to why they must do what they do.

2. Teach your employees to read the customer and be efficient first and friendly second. If customers are in a hurry, look at their watch, or get right to the point, start schmoozing only if they initiate additional conversation. While they’re waiting for the credit-card authorization, it’s O.K. to ask “How’s your day going?” The customer will either say “fine” or will initiate a conversation. Let the customer control the depth of interaction.

3. Teach employees to answer the phone, explain they are with another customer, and ask to put the caller on hold. Then, after giving great service to the first customer, answer the call on hold, apologize for the wait, and give the caller the same great service.

John Goodman
Arlington, Va.

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