Customer Service Fatal Errors
By: Laura Putman
This article is not referring to large business and big corporation’s poor customer service standards, that’s a given. I am referring to the many entrepreneurs, whether self-employed or franchise owners, who neglect to apply their business experience and knowledge to the most important part of their business, their customer service.
Why the reference to fatal errors? Fatal errors in this case, is referring to a business or franchise owner assuming that the someone communicating with them, no matter the form or reason, isn’t worth responding to. I know, I have been on the receiving end of this all too often.
Ignoring a communication is damaging to the reliability of you and your product or service. What gives us the impression that the person we’re ignoring won’t be a paying customer now or in the future? Or worse yet, that the person asking or requesting for a response won’t pass on our name and our clear lack of interest to all of their friends and colleagues. With the boom in social media & search engine business poll use, I wouldn’t want to chance it.
How Businesses Lose Customers
My immediate reaction when a bad customer service situation happens is to me is to: a. not do business with them, now or in the future, b. shout their name from the rooftops as a business to stay away from and the reasons why, meaning my personal, frustrated opinion.
Can you imagine how many potential customers that someone like that is going to lose?
From an article titled ““Common Mistakes Made by Small Business Owners“”, by Susan Brown, Suite101 “Business owners are out of touch with customers. Small businesses often fail because they do not respond to the changing needs and attitudes of their customers.”
Remember, first and foremost the people that are being ignored are intelligent and savvy. I, myself, am very email knowledgeable and well aware when I am being snubbed. I also know when an email has landed in my junk or spam file because I get a notice and I also make a point to check it frequently. Using that as an excuse is lame. I always find a few minutes to respond to an email even if it is just a comment, I walk my talk. I will even place a call to be connect with the person, a voice makes quite an impression when you are trying to create a relationship.
If as a business owner you don’t respond, shame on you. If you use the excuse that you were too busy or had no interest in responding because the person is just looking for information, or asking for something that you don’t have or want to give, you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. This not only one potential paying customer, but many that you’ve just blown off.
Have you ever seen the movie, Miracle on 34th Street? In it the store Santa refers Macy’s customers to a nearby store for an item they are looking for that is either higher priced or not available in Macy’s. That, my friends is the ultimate in customer service and a great way to gain the confidence and loyalty of a potential or current customer.
How You Can Easily Create a Win-Win Situation
a) No matter the context of their email, respond, respond, respond. Be polite, professional and end with an open-ended statement such as, whatever I can do to be of service to you
b) Don’t say, “I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your email, for some reason it went to my spam folder and I didn’t see it”, that is the new standard excuse for ignoring an email that you didn’t feel was worth your time and everyone knows it.
c) Set the time aside each day to review each email folder (even your spam folder), it’s easy and worth the time it takes
d) Set time aside to check your voice messages and note to return the call, you never know when you might be blowing off a new client.
e) Create an electronic task message to check your email or voice mail at the end of the day
I cannot advise that enough. I have been in the business world for over 23 years and this one of my areas of expertise. My biggest complaint and frustration is the lack of response to a request or response, either by phone or email. In my world, there are no excuses, there shouldn’t be in yours.
If you want to be wildly successful and be the first business that comes to mind when someone is seeking your product or service, make sure you create a first rate customer service attitude and address every form of communication as you would expect to be communicated with.