Some people are magnets for bad boy/girlfriends. Others are magnets for “trouble”. I’m a magnet for poor customer service.
I don’t know why that is, exactly. Generally speaking, I’m friendly and I get along well with others who show me some modest level of respect. So why is it that I tend to find the people who don’t know what they’re doing, don’t know how to help me and don’t ever seem to satisfy what I’ve asked for?
Part of it, I think, is that I DO know what I’m doing, most of the time. So by the time I call for help, or by the time I look for additional information, I’m not a newbie. I don’t need to be walked through the basics. I don’t need to be told to “make sure it’s plugged in” or to “check to verify xyz”. I’ve done those things long ago. I’ve also tried about a dozen potential solutions. I’ve spent an hour or more on the internet looking to see if other people have had the same difficulty and how they resolved the issue. I’ve done my homework and now I’m calling “the expert” for assistance.
Oh, and need I mention that at one point in my life, I was a first-line tech support guy, too? So I’ve seen it all from both sides of the fence. Take it from me, customer service is lacking across the board. But I hear the complaints about stupid customers, stupid management and god-awful policies. I understand that you are constrained. You have limits to your abilities to help. You can only do so much with what you’re given.
So, customer service experts, here are some suggestions on how to satisfy your next customer without going crazy yourself, but still meeting the needs of the person coming to you for help (because even in sales-related customer service, you’re still providing “help” of some sort):
- Assume that I know what I’m talking about. You can use a few base questions to figure out if I really do or if I’ve only got a surface-level knowledge about the topic at issue. But don’t start from the “you don’t know anything” position. This shows respect and you might find out that I actually DO know what I’m talking about. Heck, you might even learn something about your area of expertise as a result.
- Listen. I know, I know. Trite. But yet so true. You have to listen to me. Which means that you can’t be talking at the same time or trying to tell me something about anything other than what I am asking you to address. It’s kinda’ funny that I’m saying this, for with legal-related issues, I know that I tend to ask questions about what appear to be unrelated topics. But if you have to ask a question that makes it sound like you’ve not been listening and are just going through a checklist, explain the reason for the question.
- Respond to what I’m asking. If I ask “What’s your lowest APR available today?” – don’t tell me the benefits of your company. Tell me the lowest APR. If I say “I want to buy THIS computer.” please don’t try to sell me something different. And if I ask “Can I use any receptacle for my outdoor plugs or do I need a GFCI plug?” don’t provide me with the history of the discovery of electricity. Answer the friggin’ question.
- I don’t need to know how smart you are. I’m already coming to you for your knowledge. You don’t need to prove that you know more about the topic than I do. You simply need to apply that knowledge to solve my problem. I admit that I stumble on this one as a consultant all the time. I forget that they already know I’m an expert and I sometimes feel the need to prove it. Don’t.
- Answering “I don’t know” to my question is fine – so long as you follow it with “but I’ll go find out for you.” Nuff said.