The Vagaries of Customer Service

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We’ve all had happen what Chris Edwards describes in his article on Good Men Project.

He calls it “telecutting.”

In summary, telecutting happens when you enter a retail establishment or restaurant to talk to a sales or service representative and he gives priority to the ringing telephone.

I know quite well Chris’s annoyance—and I’d extend it a bit:

Just as often as I’ve received better service by calling customer care over visiting a location in person, I’ve experienced the reverse: Visiting a brick-and-mortar establishment has often proved the only way to quickly and efficiently get what I need.

Which is better—phone calls or in-person visits—seems like a complete crap shoot.

This is not okay.

Smart retailers will determine how to provide consistently optimal customer service via all possible channels: in person, via telephone, and over the Internet.

Businesses must consider the full spectrum of customer experience and ensure they put training in place to

  • help agents know what to do in given situations (don’t expect employees to know instinctively how to prioritize) and

  • provide the same tools for all agents in every service medium to consistently provide optimal customer service, ending the disparity between one channel and another.

In addition—something of a corollary—retailers need to ensure they don’t chase new customers at the expense of existing business. I see this mistake far too often. Current customers have bought into your marketing pitch—and prospects may never. Keep the people who currently pay your bills ecstatic.

It’s smart business to do so.

When you take care of your customers effectively, they will take care of you. After all, referrals are always the best source of new clients.

What do you see as businesses’ biggest customer service issues?