Well, more truthfully, the lack of it! It seems old-fashioned customer service is a thing of the past (and I’m not that old,… really, I’m not!).
Looking for a definition of Customer Service, I came across this one which I like, it’s from an article on Study.com
“Customer service is the act of taking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service and assistance before, during, and after the customer’s requirements are met.”
What has prompted all this thinking about Customer Service? Well, I have had several recent horrible examples of bad customer service due to a decision I made to upgrade from ADSL to Broadband. These examples made me realise that “online” customer service can be one of those areas which fail badly, and one of those areas where it is extremely hard to find anyone to discuss that with.
I’m sure you have probably come across websites where it is nearly impossible to find a phone number to actually contact some-one to talk to about problems, instead you need to submit an email and wait … and wait … and wait until they might eventually deign to reply with some innocuous, run-of-the-mill “gee, we are sorry you had this problem”.
Then they proceed to not actually address your issue, or do anything about your problem, because, hey, you’re one of a plenitude of fish in the big, vast internet ocean, and they really just can’t be bothered with minnows because they want to catch whales.
Yes, I’m a bitter minnow. 🙂
But it’s just not online where there is a problem. Good old physical customer service has also become a fairy tale in most places – the Supermarket being a prime example, the Service Station (where you actually used to get service – the hint was in the name), government services, the doctor, the baker, the candlestick maker! Seems like the one thing they don’t train staff in these days is customer service – although they will all ask for that in their employment ads and list it as a selection criteria at interviews!
Anyway, enough of the negative, the good news is that I am in a position to make a difference in my business, being the sole employee has it’s perks. I can strive for the highest standards of customer service and know that they will be maintained or The Boss will be having serious words with herself.
Sometimes it is just the little things that make the difference, like returning calls when you say you will, replying to emails in a prompt manner, completing your work to the best standards for each job, good manners, polite and friendly communication, and a willingness to make sure your client is as happy as they can be with your work, and if not, addressing those issues straight away.
For me it really does come down to this: If I was my own client, how would I want to be treated? That’s all I have to think about to make me try that little bit harder to do it well.
The old saying that “the Customer is always right” can be a very good thing to strive for, but sometimes the customer is NOT right, and it is then that customer service needs to step up to the mark and find out how to make the customer happy with being wrong!
(I’d like to re-write that old saying to something more like: “Good Customer Service is your right”)
I’ve been on both sides of that divide, making a complaint and (in my past employment) receiving complaints. It’s easy to be cynical in both sets of shoes, so I try to remember what it feels like to wear both shoes when I am in either of those situations now. One foot has a steel-capped boot, one has a chunky heel – makes me walk funny but it helps keep me on the straight and narrow!