It’s more than the annoyance of prompts for an account number, zip code, phone number, pin number, birth date, last five digits of a social security number and your bra size (okay maybe not that one but you get the idea).
It’s the false sense of hope once a customer service rep answers. For a minute, customers believe that the rep has power to resolve an issue. They believe that the person will be able to listen to an issue and come up with a human-based answer, not an automated, scripted one.
However, customers soon realize the rep is just a live version of the automated help maze. They see that the person on the line has little to no power, because they are not trained to use their judgment to make a decision. They must rely on scripts and cookie-cutter answers for questions that are not cookie-cutter.
If your company is going to hire people for customer service, empower them to make decisions (Zappos is my favorite example of this). If you don’t feel your reps can handle making decisions, then hire new people with competent judgment skills. Stop giving your customers a false sense of hope when they hear a person. It’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to your reps that have to deal with irate customers.
Here are other things you can do to improve the customer service experience:
- Don’t ask customers to repeat the information they just entered into your automated system.
- Use a CRM (customer relationship management) system to record your customer’s history. That way your customers won’t have to rehash previous problems or conversations with other reps.
- Insist that all reps are nice to clients (And no, this is not a given. I’ve had reps hang up on me and I was not irate).
- If you are going to use a survey to evaluate your efficiency, use questions that will offer productive feedback. Instead of “Were you happy with your service today?” try “What part of your experience could have been better?”
- Hire happy people.
- Monitor what people are saying about you online (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
- Don’t use generic answers (e.g. Our policy states…).
- Find reasons to say yes to customers’ requests.
Here are some basic ways to reach a target audience that’s not online because let’s face it, there are still a lot of people that don’t use Facebook, Twitter and hold your breath… Google.
- Support causes special to your audience.
- Organize an event for your audience.
- Gain credibility of thought leaders.
- Create a subscription-based newsletter with valuable information.
- Utilize Print, Radio and Television Ads.
- Run a contest.
- Give samples.
- Produce a cable access TV show.
- Distribute coupons.
- Use a referral campaign.
- Create a campaign based around a holiday.
- Create your own holiday.
- Team with a company that offers a vertical service.
- Attend social gatherings.
- Find interest groups that can benefit from your product/service and:
- Offer or sponsor a class/seminar of interest
- Offer to speak at a meeting
- Give samples
Here are a few reasons your Press Release was ignored:
It was not well-written.
It did not tell the media outlet why their audience would be interested in your news.
The story was not news worthy.
It got lost among the hundreds of press releases the outlet receives everyday.
It was sent to the wrong person in the organization.
There was no follow-up.
The timing was wrong.
It got caught in the spam filter.
I could go on but the point is this. Getting your story covered takes much more than writing and distributing a release. It takes research, follow-up, relationship-building and sometimes a little luck. Think about it; there’s a reason media relations is considered a skillset.
Towanda Long aka mscafe
Unprofessional materials. This includes everything from business cards on the wrong paper stock to brochures printed on regular copier paper to poorly designed websites. With so many affordable options there really is no excuse.
Typos. It will get your resume filed in the trash and it will do the same for your business’ reputation. Hire a proofreader, or at the least get an English-savvy friend to review your writing.
Poor phone etiquette. No one wants to call a business and here “Hello.” Maybe “Hello, thank you for calling…”, but not just “Hello.” And we especially don’t want to hear your child answer the phone. If you are running a home-based business, invest in distinguished ring. It’s only a couple of dollars and when the phone rings you’ll know it’s a business call. Plus, you can train your kids not to answer the double ring.
Inconsistent message. If your messaging is based on newly designed technology, your CEO should not show up to the pitch meeting with a mobile phone circa 1988.
Disregard the customer experience. Your excellent product will not bring loyal customers if the person that answers the phone is rude, orders arrive late or people don’t feel appreciated. A great experience is just as important as a great product.
Towanda Long aka mscafe
You remind them of themselves. It’s that whole “birds of a feather” thing…
You’re knowledgeable (but not a know-it-all).
You add value to their life/project/business.
You have qualities they find inspiring.
You make them feel comfortable.
You have a sense of humor.
You make them smile.
Just a quick reminder that being likable is a great personality trait.
Towanda Long aka mscafe