I’ve met so many people lately who complain about the customer service they were given at any number of places, be it at the grocery store, a restaurant, or even the post office. It’s true that in some cases the service at a particular establishment is far from ideal, but I think a great number of people forget that customer service is a two way street. If your interaction with a customer service person is less than ideal, you may want to think about how your attitude and demeanor affected the service you were provided. In my seven years of customer service I’ve come across countless people who would have enjoyed their experience more had they taken the right approach to it; had they put in the effort that they expected to get out of someone else on the other side of the counter.
In my opinion, while the level of customer service should not vary from one person to another, we have to keep in mind that each person and situation is different, which in turn determines the direction of the interaction. If you as the customer come in swinging with a negative attitude and unkind words, it’s only a matter of time before your approach rubs someone the wrong way, which undeniably affects the way in which you will be treated from that point onward.
I have compiled a list of basic tips to help you receive optimal customer service in most situations. I encourage you to try them out for yourself and see how dramatically things will change.
1. KEEP YOUR VOICE LEVEL
I think the biggest piece of advice when speaking to a customer service representative at any place of business is to keep your voice level. Nobody wants to be yelled at by anyone under any circumstance. There is no need to raise your voice. We hear you perfectly fine, and chances are that by raising your voice, you are eliminating any chance at being truly heard. We can’t decipher the heart of the issue because we’re too busy being verbally assaulted by your voice. Furthermore, if you are screaming over the phone, it’s very likely that we can’t understand most of what you are saying.
2. USE EYE CONTACT
If you are speaking to me, you should be looking at me. I think you’d be surprised at how many times a person is complaining to me, but not even looking at me because he or she is too wrapped up in someone or something else.
3. USE/REMEMBER MY NAME
If you want attentive service, use my name once at the beginning of the interaction and once at the end. Anything beyond that is excessive and creepy. By using it at the beginning you are getting my attention and by using it at the end you have built a rapport with me. It shows that you were paying attention as well.
4. GET TO THE POINT
There is nothing I hate more than hearing someone’s life story. I don’t care that your dog died or your wife left you. I only need to know about this one instance that involves my employer: what the issue was, why you were unhappy, and what I can do to make you leave happy.
5. BE MORE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT
The best way to reach a solution is to be clear about what it is you want and what you expect. In many cases the customer service person will offer a solution, which may or may not be to your liking. If you’re clear about your expectations, you’ll find yourself with a happy solution much sooner than you originally would have.
6. BE PREPARED
I cannot stress enough the importance of being prepared. Countless times I have waited on people who come up to the counter to address an issue on the receipt that he or she somehow lost in the five minutes that it took to walk from the register to the customer service desk. In many of these cases I am forced to stand there quietly as the customer rummages through pockets and purses for the better part of ten minutes only to tell me that the he or she cannot find the receipt. If you know you’re going to need any type of paperwork be it a receipt or a form at an office, have it ready. It will make everything go much smoother.
7. DON’T BLAME ME
Yes, I work for this establishment. No, that does not mean that your experience here was automatically my fault. If you come at me guns blazing, you had better expect me to respond accordingly. I’m here to help you, but I will not be personally blamed for something that was beyond my individual control.
8. STAY ON TRACK AND OFF YOUR CELL PHONE
I dare you to pick up your cell phone while I’m trying to help you. Rude does not even begin to describe the way you are acting. Put your cell phone down and focus on what’s happening immediately in front of you.
I read a study in college that showed that smiling really is contagious. The natural reaction to someone smiling at me is for me to smile back. It’s the simplest way to start an interaction the right way and there’s no denying that the little things go a long way.
In my experience not only as the customer service person, but as the customer as well, using please and thank you go a long way. Some of the best customer service that I have ever received I attribute to the manners I used when speaking to the person on the other side of the counter. Many of you probably think it’s only the other person’s responsibility to be polite, but that’s a load of bullshit. The person behind the counter is only human, doing his or her job the best he or she can, and most likely gets a host of people each and every day who are unnecessarily unkind and rude. Be the one to break the streak of unkind words with some basic decency; I guarantee things will turn out better for you as a result.
If you try to incorporate some of these tools in your interactions with a customer service representative at any place of business, you’ll be met with better service and a more desirable solution to any problem.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry