Making mistakes are a part of life. This we know. But, when you are in the service industry, failure to follow-through properly with services rendered can have damaging effects on your business. That’s why customer service is so important.
At one point or another, we’ve all been customers within the service industry. And as paying consumers, we want what everyone wants: product and/or service satisfaction. That’s certainly not an unreasonable expectation. We want to see equal value between what we buy and what we spend. And if we fail to see the balance between the two, its easy to find ourselves dissatisfied or even, depending on the situation, disgruntled. This fact alone folks, is why the service industry must place as much value in their product and/or service as it does in it’s customer service.
Can we define customer service in one definition? According to CSM, the magazine for Customer Service Managers & Professionals, the answer is “no.” The reason? Perhaps it’s because the philosophy behind it is viewed in such varying degrees. On their website however, CSM provides several different definitions of the concept:
“Customer service is the ability to provide a service or product in the way that it has been promised”
“Customer service is an organization’s ability to supply their customers’ wants and needs”
“Customer Service is a phrase that is used to describe the process of taking care of our customers in a positive manner”
“Customer Service is the commitment to providing value added services to external and internal customers, including attitude knowledge, technical support and quality of service in a timely manner”
“Customer service is a proactive attitude that can be summed up as: I care and I can do.”
Whether you agree with the different definitions provided above, what can be acknowledged is that excellent customer service is extremely valuable both to companies and their consumers. And on the flip side, poor or non-existent customer service can have lasting and damaging effects on companies.
There’s no doubt we all have stories of customer service–the good, the bad and the ugly. I, for one, have a recent example of why great problem management and damage control is an incredibly important part in any business.
Recently, a contractor discovered mold hidden behind a wall in our basement. Naturally, I became hysterical. Having four kids, two of which are asthmatic, I couldn’t stop worrying about the effects it could be having on our well-being. All I could focus on was getting the problem fixed immediately. So, out of sheer panic, I went against my better judgement. I didn’t research much. I didn’t get multiple quotes. I called the first company I came across, told them my problem and set up an appointment to have them tend to my house. Given reassurances over the phone and a detailed description of the process utilized to safely mitigate mold, I was comforted and relieved of the worry. Unfortunately, my relief was short-lived.
The service technician did not follow through on the described protocol. When asked, his response is that I spoke to a salesmen, not the person who performs the service. In other words, I was simply being “sold” to rather than guaranteed. I was also very unsettled by the technician’s lack of knowledge and proposed resolution to our home’s mold. He sprayed a disinfectant on the area in question and charged us an astronomical fee for doing so.
As soon as he left, I knew 2 things:
1. The service rendered was not equal to the cost paid.
2. Our mold problem was still a big problem.
Immediately I called the company. Despite my best efforts at discussing my concerns with the company’s GM, I was still highly dissatisfied. I demanded a field manager reinspect my home to confirm the mold was mitigated. In the meantime, I was building my case against the company–writing down notes about my experience, gathering paperwork, speaking to my attorney. I had no doubt we were dealing with a bait and switch situation and was prepared to report their business practices to the Better Business Bureau.
And, just as expected, within thirty seconds of re-inspection, the field manager admitted the mold had not been cleaned up to any extent. We still had a major problem. To rectify the situation he said he’d do the job properly, but to me it was too late. I told him we simply wanted a full refund.
SPOILER ALERT : Here is where good customer service is invaluable.
I was fully expecting the field manager to initially deny my request. I figured he would try to sell me more on what he can do. Instead, he simply nodded his head and told me he understood. He apologized profusely for the problems, explained exactly what he would have done had he been the technician on the job and simply validated our complaint. He even went as far as to close off the space surrounding the mold with plastic so that the air quality would improve until we could get another company to come in to mitigate it. He cooperated in every way possible and before leaving our home, asked me if I could give him feedback on the original technician so he could go back and address the problem so it never happens again.
Honestly, I can’t come up with even one more thing he could have done to provide better customer service. He did exactly what we needed him to do: our complaint was validated, our money returned and our voices heard. We have decided not to follow through with a long string of complaints and reports specifically because of the field manager. His professionalism convinced us that what occurred was atypical and his customer service reassured us he would not stand for it to occur again. In fact, when the opportunity arises we will be writing a letter acknowledging him for the way in which he conducted and rectified our situation. We feel its important to make his company aware of how invaluable he is to their business.
When it comes to magical customer service, consider the advice of AccelaWork’s own Robby Slaughter:
What’s really important to understand is the impact of your customer service—good or bad. A happy customer will tell a few of their friends about your business. An unhappy customer will tell a dozen people, plus countless strangers on social media. That means you must always be ready to answer a question, address a concern, or simply listen to a complaint.