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a blog by Don R. Crawley

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I’m going to rant about a customer service fail, actually three customer service fails. I’ve been on the receiving end of three customer service fails within the past week. If you have these fails, you’ll lose customers and credibility and, if you are part of an internal IT organization, you’ll alienate your co-workers. Here goes:

Customer Service Fail #1

I’m starting to put together a budget for a large project involving customer research. I called a local company last week to start a dialog about working with them on the research project. When I called, the owner was out of town at a trade show. The person who answered the phone said he would call me on Monday. Now it’s Tuesday and I haven’t heard anything from him. That’s a bad sign for any future relationship and it’s just rude. We won’t be working together. Return phone calls in a timely manner. Actually, just return them.

Customer Service Fail #2

I’m looking for a new printer for one of my books. I called a local company that had good reviews and claimed to specialize in the type of printing I need. When they answered, a computer voice said, “Thank you for calling. No one is available to take your call. Please call back later.” Seriously? Maybe their business is so good that they don’t need my business or maybe the owner of the company doesn’t realize that’s how their phone is answered. Call your business from time-to-time as a secret shopper to ensure everything is happening the way you want it to happen.

Customer Service Fail #3

I had a problem with one of my Amazon business accounts. I was able to log on, but then I received an odd error message. I opened a case with Amazon and included a detailed description of the problem and the error message. Normally, Amazon’s customer service is outstanding, but not this time. I received an email back from them with instructions for resetting my password. My problem had nothing to do with a password reset. They (or their AI support system) didn’t read my description of the problem. I wrote back, again detailing the problem, and they responded with something else totally irrelevant. I wrote back again and asked them to please read the entire thread so they would understand the problem. This time, I received a response telling me what to do, but not how to do it. I had to scrounge around their website until I was able to figure out where to change the configuration settings according to the instructions in their email. The case should have been solved in a single email, but instead it took several emails back and forth to resolve the issue. Grrrr. Read customer messages carefully. When you send instructions, don’t assume any level of knowledge. Make the instructions clear and detailed.

Customer service, whether in IT or any other area, is not difficult to do right as long as you give it some thought. Put yourself in your customer’s position. What would you want? You’d like your call to be returned. You’d like to be able to leave a voicemail message, if necessary. And you’d like customer service reps to actually read your email and provide detailed, explicit instructions.

For More Ideas on How to Improve Communication and Customer Service Skills

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