At one time or another, we have all been disappointed by the service received from people or organizations we do business with. Whether it’s poor communication, discourteous or outright rude behavior, or just plain unsatisfactory work or results, we base future decisions in no small part on these experiences. At a call center “service levels” are metrics that measure wait time, and surveys follow up to see if customer delight was attained. But before you even get an agent on the phone, nothing is more maddening than navigating a poorly designed automated phone system or IVR. Just how many presses does it take to get to a human being, or like me do you end up just yelling “customer service” in a futile attempt to break through the matrix? It’s maddening when a company you pay for product or services cannot design a system that puts the customer first, or at least minimizes the headaches of getting answers to account issues or other inquiries.
Learning by Watching Others
When the opportunity came up in late 2021 to start my own distribution company called Music Ship, the determination as to how we would manage dealer relations and customer service was straight forward. Since we already knew what we did not like about certain vendor or distributor practices, the answer was to do just the opposite. For example, we put together an easy-to-use online dealer application, as we know as sales reps that this is a typical bottleneck in getting a new account up and running. We purchased a toll-free number that rings directly to my cell phone, and if I’m not available it sends voicemail directly to my email in-box. Making it a priority to call end users and dealers back as fast as possible also defines good service in my view. Just a few weeks ago, a prospective dealer called me on a Sunday afternoon, and expressed shock when I picked up the phone. I wasn’t preoccupied at the time, so it was no issue for me, and after a very nice conversation we had agreed to start doing business together. The same philosophy applies when a consumer sends an inquiry through our website form – I always reply in a timely fashion and do whatever is possible to resolve issues in an expedient manner.
Service With a Smile
Not only is prompt response a requirement, but attitude goes a very long way. If someone is upset or combative, it’s best to stay upbeat and positive. Being able to diffuse a difficult situation and arrive at a satisfactory solution is the epitome of good service. Many times, this amounts to being an empathic listener, and attempting to understand the circumstance from the end user’s perspective. In any event, I have found that going out of your way to resolve issues leaves everyone feeling good about the resolution. It’s likely that a satisfied customer will be a repeat buyer, and share the positive resolution with friends, family, and musical cohorts. Conversely, if a person is not treated respectfully, they may go out of their way to trash your company on social media, place bad reviews on Google or Yelp, or otherwise make sure everyone they know is aware of their dissatisfaction.
Accountability is Key
If you make a mistake, own up to it. If something got by you such as an email or missed phone call, apologize for the oversight, and make good on your commitment to excellence in customer service. Think about the companies that you might not like based on how they treat or respond to you and present an overt contrast. In a world of ambivalence and sometimes outright disregard for good service, let’s all make the commitment to strive for distinction. At the very least, you’ll know you have “done the right thing” and feel good about the effort.