Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5 ways you can be a better Customer/Company

Every company that has any kind of success knows that the real reason for their success is the relationship that company has with their customers.  They strive for perfect customer service.  They want YOU to have a great shopping 'experience'.  As a result, these great service companies have made something of a monster, namely, YOU.  More and more people are displaying behavior that does not deserve special treatment, it deserves to be spanked like a spoiled child.  The other thing is this.  If you behave like a rotten customer, the BEST you can hope for is by the book compliance.  That is to say if you are obnoxious, the representative has the option of falling back on company policy and procedure to make sure you get the minimum amount of satisfaction possible if at all.  Something like this: 'We will be happy to reimburse you, simply send the original receipt, the product, and the upc from a similar product that does work and you can expect a response in 6 to 8 weeks'.  Does that sound like you will get what you want?  On the other hand Companies have decided that there are 2 routes to take, either spend a lot on customer service, or go cheap.  Do either of these things sound ideal? No.  So here are some things you can do to get better customer service, or be better AT customer service.


1. - Listen - Maybe the most important thing in any communication process.  Any customer service is going to have a certain amount of explanation and instruction.  People seeking customer service usually have a preconceived notion about what will satisfy them and they are listening for that specific answer.  Anything else over the phone is just static.  Open your ears.  That information will help you get what you are looking for.  If you go through 90% of the trouble that they ask of you, that 10% will probably sink you.

2. - Get your crap together! - Before you call, you need to get all of the information together about what it is you want.  If it is a defective product, you should have the EXACT model number as well as the lot number of the item in question easily available.  The less time you need to spend to get your information together, the more likely you will get satisfaction.  This is the equivalent of filling out your checkbook register information after you have paid instead of before.  It's rude and stupid.  Once you have everything together, be clear and concise and you will probably have a much better chance at success.

3. - Be friendly - Don't call up mad.  Mad people are stupid.  Ooooh did I just say stupid?  Yeah, i didn't mean stupid I meant REALLY STUPID.  If you are frustrated and you can't seem to keep your emotions together to not abuse the person on the other end of the line, you really don't deserve to get any help.  Friendly people often get more than what they want because they are refreshing and pleasant to deal with.

4. - Do your homework - One of the biggest things I find amazing about people is their unwillingness to read anything.  They just don't want to read.  You have the internet.  Look up what you need help with, see what the procedures are for you to get maximum satisfaction.  There is no reason to not do this ahead of time.  To plead ignorance is to just get frustrated.

5. - Quit being so stinking picky - When you are in a restaurant or other service establishment, don't expect a better level of quality than you are willing to put up with when you are serving yourself.  A few of the leaves on the salad aren't super crisp?  Don't eat them.  eat the rest of the salad.  Your coffee is too hot?  Your ice cream is too cold?  Quit being such a baby.  Only if the food has clearly got problems should you bring attention to it and probably after the meal is done, not before you start eating.  This is for self preservation as well as not being a pain.  Sending food back is just BEGGING for someone to add a little special loogey sauce to your meal.  No of course it shouldn't happen.  Doesn't mean it won't.  Just don't eat whatever you didn't like and at the end of the meal mention it.  The server will either offer you a dessert or possibly a discount on the meal.  Remember the be friendly part.


1. - Native speakers of your markets - If you are going to pretend to offer customer service, you REALLY need to have customer service representatives that speak that language as a native.  Does that make me racist?  I hope not.  I hope it makes me someone that wants to understand the instructions i'm being told so I can be satisfied with your product or service.  Just because the speakers are native doesn't mean they are good, that's just a first metric of a good customer service agent.

2. - Do your homework! - Customer service reps NEED to know about the product or service or have the ability to bring up the knowledge quickly.  If that can't happen, there is really no point to calling customer service.  The ONLY reason I should have to be moved up to a higher rank of service agent is because they have the power and authority to actually help me.  Knowledge for process and procedure should be available quickly by the front line.

3. - Robots don't care - Having automated customer service trees that guide you down a seemingly endless path of non-satisfying options only to have you talk to a regular customer service rep at the end doesn't do much more than add insult to injury.

4. - What was that again?  - This is a BIG gripe for me.  If you are asking me to offer my customer ID whatever it is.  Once I have entered that ID, that should be the end of it.  If you are going to make me offer that id again for verification, there is no point to making me put it in for the robot and then again for you.  This goes for all kinds of industries where my identification seems to be important enough to bother me for, but not important enough to keep from email spammers.

5. - Offer the most up front - Don't be cheap with your customers.  Don't be cheap with your time.  When a customer needs some kind of satisfaction or mollification due to a faulty product or service.  Give them the most you can give up front and nothing more after that.  That costs too much?  Really?  Balance that against huge call wait times and customers that feel like they should try to game the system to get the most out of them and you'll soon see that offering the most up front will save time and ultimately money.

Just some thoughts on the customer service biz.  Aren't we all in customer service really?

Monday, December 1, 2014

10 Gifts

Once again, the yearly exercise of getting presents for the people on your list has come around.  Yes I'm publishing this at Christmas, otherwise known as 'The Holidays' for those of you that are probably offended by everything.  This is the big daddy of gift giving holidays, but of course there are other events for gift giving.  If you take the reason for whatever event out of the event itself, you are left with an obligation to give someone something.  So be sure to remember the reasons you are giving gifts in the first place that will probably help.  I have made blog posts about giving gifts before this is not about giving gifts, this is about the gifts you give.  Here are 10 gifts.

10 - Swing!..and a miss - Yup, this gift was just not appreciated.  You put all your thought and spirit into selecting the gift and it was obviously not appreciated.  Sometimes it's because the receiver is not very good at getting gifts and sometimes it's because the gift was just the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Often a gift unappreciated is just not the right age for the person you are giving it to.  I have been guilty of giving grown men remote control cars that I thought would be cool.  It wasn't really the right gift, but that's the breaks when you are trying to figure out gifts.

9 - And this is for you - The sudden gift usually at Christmas but can also be on a shared birthday.  You find yourself on the receiving end of a present and you are mostly empty handed.  Fortunately for you, you have purchased a series of emergency gifts already wrapped and ready to give.  These gifts will likely not be perfect gifts, but they are gifts and as such will save face.  Be careful to have a blank gift tag on it with a sharpie in the room. That gift basket full of odd flavored jellies in single serving jars can really get you out of a bind.

8 - Potential Realized - This gift is one that you have bought yourself, but your spouse informs you that is your present. Example:
Husband: "Honey!  look what I got!  this carbon fiber fishing rod is perfect AND it was on sale!"
Wife:  "That looks great dear!  How much did THAT set us back?"
Husband: "500$, BUT this is normally 1200$!!!  I couldn't pass it up!"
Wife:  "So this is your birthday right?"
Husband:  "But it's 6 months away!"
Wife:  "So this is your birthday right?"
Wife:  "Would you like me to wrap it?"
Husband "No, I'll take it now"

7 - It's a pair of scissors - This is an old story my mother used to tell us entitled Spoiled Christmas Joy. It was the tale of a young girl that had purchased a gift for her mother and she refused to tell any of her siblings what the present was.  After some pressure she said "I'm not telling anyone, but on Christmas when Mom opens her present I'll yell "It's a pair of scissors!".  This was the end of the story.  To be fair the story is of foreign origin and may be specific to local humor styles.

6 - Secret Admirer Gift - This is a gift for any time.  I was a wee lad of tender years and I bought my crush something and added a heartfelt note.  Of course this was all a mistake.  But it's one of the early times that you hope that everything will be perfect.  You are on the wire without a net.  Even though you are trying to protect your identity, you secretly hope that the person you secretly admire also secretly admires you.  It's all very sophisticated.  Anything given at Valentines day is probably good.

5 - Ok ok, now leave me alone - Someone that you don't particularly like has borrowed something and you would rather not see them again instead of get your item back.  You say 'no, really, you can keep it.'  This holiday season, give the gift of a used chainsaw.

4 - Sudden inspiration - you have no occasion and yet you have found the perfect gift for someone.  This happens sometimes and it's amazing when it does.  You suddenly see something that you are certain that nobody is going to get for that person and that person probably doesn't even know about.  Should you get it for them?  Probably.  Usually this gift morphs right into the perfect gift and is always worth trying for.

3 - The unintended gift - This specifically is where you buy someone a lottery ticket and it happens to win something fairly big.  You wanted to get them more than 5 dollars worth of lottery tickets, but you most certainly didn't want to get them 50k.  Oh well.  This happens obviously with lottery tickets but also happens with collector cards where the packages of cards contain random cards.  Some packages are winners and others are losers.  Risky Risky.

2 - The gift horse - You know, the one you don't want to look in the mouth?  The situation in which this happens usually starts with something about which you have a mild obsession, but that has several models.  You want a tablet and you know exactly which one you want.  Now the gift giving holiday has arrived and you get the tablet you have been obsessing over!  YAY! Unfortunately it's the one that is a few features short of the model you had your eyes on.  It looks exactly the same and behaves in a very similar fashion and yet it's NOT the one you want.  You KNOW you should be grateful, but you really aren't.  Instead you are wondering if you can get away without opening it so you can quietly take it back and finesse your way into the model you want.  Yeah, there are really very few ways you can win in this one.  If you are on the other side of this, just remember, it IS the thought that counts and just because you didn't get the EXACT right one doesn't mean you didn't get it for them.  They will take it back and get the perfect one which will look identical to the one you got them.  Don't stress it and don't force the issue ala "Aren't you going to open it??".

1 - Perfect!  -  Opposite of the Swing and miss, the perfect gift has everything going for it.  The receiver is touched, possibly beyond words.  You feel so good about how successful your present is, you decide that you want to try this gift thing some more.  They feel so good about your gift that they keep mentioning it and so do you.  Once you give the perfect gift, you want do relive the moment over and over.  PERFECT.

This blog post was late.  On purpose.  It was an experiment.  I didn't find much out.  Happy Holidays (This is a blanket phrase that includes Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years).