I have been working with customer care since I wandered around at my grandparents groceries store in diapers. I am born and raised in a customer oriented world. As I teenager, I avoided bad behavior, not because of my good upbringing, but if I misbehaved it might cause less customers for my mom and dad. (They took over the store from my grandparents). I have been working with customers all my life, and my wife claims that I have a twisted perspective on customer care. Well I do get annoyed at bad customer care, and I do become happy when I experience good customer care. The hard part is how do I teach other people to give great customer care?
According to Wikipedia, customer service is:
“Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation”
I want to tell you a story about my grandfather, he once bought some cheap ties on a rack and placed at the counter in the store, selling them for only one dollar each about thirty years ago, they did not sell, customers did not want to buy cheap ties. He raised the price to ten dollars and gave a 10 % discount, and sold every single one within two days.
A more modern story fresh from this week. My youngest son has an eye that he calls the binocular eye, as he is farsighted on his right eye. So we need glasses. We went to Specsavers, an international company just recently established here in Norway, marketing that they beat competition on price. As we stumbled thru the door we meet a young lady that could not help us since we wanted glasses and not sunglasses. She called for another young lady to assist, which could not help either, so she went to get an optician at the back. He did not show for 5 minutes, and in the meantime I had lost my patience. I said, can you just give me a price estimate. She said it would be about $430-$500 depending on the frame. I found my exit and thanked her for the price estimate, and said I need to check out the competition (meaning:) “You do not have a clue, and I am not impressed by the way to busy optician” – So my son and I went to the nearest competition. Greeted by one person in the store, an optician, a lady that knew exactly what I was looking for.When I asked for pricing, she explained that I would only pay for the excess after they got their refund from the state. Glasses for kids is subsided by the state in Norway. I knew we got it on the first set, but I did not know that we could do this again. She explained that they bill the state, and we pay the rest, normally being about $100-$125 – depending on the frame, and suggested I should pick one in titan as kids need rough frames. And as she would register the order, she gave us the remote control for the lock on the shelves and he could try on frames as she punched the order in the back. Five minutes later she came and assisted on size and color. We found one he liked, and she said I will have them finished by the end of the week and you will receive a SMS telling you to come and pick them up. You will pay then.
I expected Specsavers to be cheap because of their marketing here in Norway. I did not expect unqualified staff to help me. They was not cheaper, and they did not know about the refund arrangement with the state. Maybe the optician would know, but he was not present. And I needed to pay up front.
At the other store, she knew my worries about the price being high and removed my worries. And I saved 3-400 dollars going to a store that is supposed to be expensive, well knowing that the lack of knowledge at Specsavers will cost future customer a lot of money or cost Specsavers a lot of customers.
So what can we learn from these real live examples?
My grandfathers customers expected more quality in a tie, buying one dollar ties did not give them the quality they expected. When he sold it to them at nine times the original price they thought it would have the right quality for them. And they got it for 10 % off the price. All of a sudden it was a good price. My opinion is that in the Norwegian countryside they only wear a tie to funeral and weddings, and it would be disrespectful to show up in a cheap tie. So a one dollar tie would not sell there anyway. 🙂
When I had to buy new glasses for my son, I expected knowledge. I do not know anything about glasses as I do not use such an item myself. I find it interesting that the cheap store needed 3 employees to serve me, while the expensive one only had one, she on the other hand was an adult optician, knowing what I needed.
So it is very much about meeting expectations. I am going to provide case in two setting:
Both: An Internet Service Provider gets a customer on the phone. The internet line is not working. I am providing two different scenarios.
|Scenario A||Scenario B|
|Hi, welcome to Acme Inc, how can I help you today?
My internet line is not workingI will see if there is anything wrong here, that I can fix right now or if I need to involve our second line support. Both looking for the error and can’t fix it.
|Hi, welcome to Acme Inc, how can I help you today?
My internet line is not workingNo worries, I can help you with that.
Both looking for the error and can’t fix it.
|I have done my best sir, but I can’t figure out this one||I have done my best sir, but I can’t figure out this one|
Who got the best customer service? Who raised the bar the highest? And who failed? It is the same call handled differently.
You should not fear high expectations, if you can meet them. If you can not meet them, you must try to get the expectations down and then meet them.
The same goes with marketing, if your marketing create high expectations that your company just won’t be able to meet, well there is a problem in your hands.
What is the customer expecting? How can you meet that? Do you know? You need to know to be able to produce good customer care.
If you buy a cheap product and it is broken you might think, well I could not expect anything better, and you pray and hope that you can swap it. If you buy an expensive product and it gets broken you’ll not only swap it, but your experience will also be bad, resulting in you in anger driving to the store to yell the poor sales person all out of motivation.
It is hard to describe good customer service in a short blog post. It is all about smiling, greeting, thanking, analyzing, providing, fixing and solving. And on top of that you need to exceed the expectations your image create. What do you do to provide great customer service to your customers?