I do not care if there is a pandemic or not! I care even less if there is sunshine or rain, wind, snow, sleet, or hurricanes. Guess what; neither do those people expecting customer service. They want solutions, and when they do not obtain solutions, that customer will be looking at your competition and wondering if their needs can be met elsewhere.
Let me set the scene. I have a follow-up doctor’s appointment this morning. I traveled more than an hour for an early morning appointment, which included surviving multiple school zones, crazy rush hour parents trying to get kids into school and themselves onto work, and the inevitable school buses working tirelessly to deliver children to school safely. All of this I can accept; I agreed to the early morning doctor’s appointment as I need to do things this afternoon. Upon arrival at the doctor’s office, I am greeted by a commando secretary, who knows I have a breathing problem and cannot wear a mask. Who invents a reason to deny me care. She calls a supervisor, then “politely” invites me to a back room to try and tell me off. She then walks out when I suggested she had two options, move my care to another neurologist or have me wear a face shield, and I was leaning towards option 1.
Since January, this scene has repeated itself more than 10-times in two different states, and frankly, I am sick to death of customer service people who refuse to look first for solutions! Your first duty in customer relations is to find solutions, not complain someone is not wearing a mask, not embarrass, isolate, and denigrate. Your entire mission is to find solutions that will work with government mandates, business policies, and customer needs.
For example, I was a new patient at a medical clinic. I explained my mask predicament, and the business already had a procedure to protect those wearing masks and accommodate those who could not wear a mask. Better still, it did not require a supervisor, it did not require special approval, I did not have to be embarrassed by office staff judgments, nor did I have to fight for my right to breathe. Two different medical offices, two wildly different approaches to the same customer problem, and two phenomenally different solutions and different mental strategies from staff to provide customer service.
Was discussing cellphone service providers; provider one has deplorable customer service, provider two is not much better, and there is no third option. I asked about solutions for small businesses to compare between the two providers and was aghast at the lack of interest in providing help to owner/operator small businesses. I do upwards of $3600 in cellphone business a year; yet, even though I have five lines personally and pay for an additional one for my spouse, and am a small business owner, the cellphone provider is not interested in looking for solutions for small businesses. Is it any wonder that customers are looking for options to ditch their phones?
Internet providers are another huge pain point for me and my business on the topic of service providers and detestable customer service. After moving, I am paying double for my Internet service connection, not paying double for the same speeds. Paying double and not getting similar speeds. Worse, the customer inattention has gone downhill since I was last a customer of this company 18-months prior. I have been told that deregulation is why Internet providers cannot compete fairly in markets and scoff. I have been informed, several times, that the reason the costs are so high for Internet connection is from outdated equipment. I have scoffed again. When Google tried to muscle into Phoenix, the current Internet providers threw an unholy fit, and Google was rejected the permits through legal, regulatory means. Apparently, competition continues to be anathema to cellular phones and Internet service providers, all while these same providers abuse customers and refuse to perform basic customer service, such as finding solutions!
What is the solution; I offer the following as potential places to begin launching a customer service revolution.
- Commit to finding solutions first. Quicken Loans is one company I know that asserts that they want to say YES before saying no. Commit to the same; demand your people learn how to say YES!
- This might sound old-fashioned, but believe it or not, it works. Smile and say please and thank you! When you are thanked, say you’re welcome. Manners matter in setting the tone in customer relations. A smile goes a long way to setting the proper tone.
- Another potentially old-fashioned idea, but worth considering if your front office staff looks rough. Customers will automatically not want to do business with you if their first impression is tattoos, body piercings, crazy hair, long nails, and scowling faces. The doctor’s office, the lead office support person, is covered in tattoos, has a body piercing that draws attention to body areas that make professional interactions difficult to conduct. Her hair matches her demeanor, rough and disruptive.
Please note, I am not against tattoos and body piercings. In professional settings, restraint is needed to show respect to the business environment and not distract properly. The nursing staff all have tattoos, and they are not as disruptive as the lead office support person. Others have body piercings on their faces, ears, heads, and body parts. But, these are not distracting, and drawing attention to body parts best left unnoticed in professional settings. There is a distinct difference between acceptable and unacceptable, and business owners will need to draw a line or be prepared to have problems with customers.
- Post in a prominent position what the customer commitment is and who to contact if customer attention fails. Want to raise awareness of customer solutions, post your commitment, and then live that commitment.
- Technology is wonderful; there need to be reliable replacement channels when you eliminate a communication channel. For example, the doctor I visited they do not have incoming phone calls. You can text the doctor’s office, you can fax the doctor’s office, you can send messages through a group insurance website, and you can email the doctor’s office. When you insist the doctor’s office do something to fit another bureaucracy, e.g., the VA, the office support staff through a fit and stop responding to text messages and emails. So, not only is their attitudes inappropriate, the customer service communication channels are throttled intentionally to avoid angry callers. Forcing patients to have to deal in person when technology is made to fail.
Commit to customer relations, find solutions. Commit to saying YES! You will be surprised how fast people become customers and want to remain customers when employees representing your business are committed to finding solutions first and excuses NEVER! End the abuse of customers; I know which doctor I will be ending my relationship with as soon as humanly possible, and I will leave online customer service reports. Abuse me as a customer, and I will go out of my way to make sure other customers and potential customers know.
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
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