Customer Service Really Isn’t That Hard
I had a hard drive crash and, unfortunately I hadn’t backed up some of the photos and documents on it. So I sent it to a data recovery firm and they sent it back via FedEx with a requirement for signature delivery. That was all fine except that I wasn’t at home when I got notice of the delivery. I was over 200 miles away and we were bracing for a winter storm that eventually shut down the majority of roads, so I hunkered down here at the cabin and waited it out.
FedEx tried to deliver again the next day but I wasn’t going anywhere, so I called and waited on a long hold and then through a long computer managed choice menu and after longer than I care to remember, I got a human being who told me they couldn’t change delivery unless instructed by the sender.
I bet you can guess the problems I had with
the sender. My account rep was out sick and no one else could, or would, do
anything about it. Another day went by and another attempted delivery.
When I finally got back home I attempted to find out where FedEx was holding my data drive, but they wouldn’t tell me unless the sender released it from hold.
This stuff isn’t that hard. It’s simple customer service and it’s something I’ve been focused on my entire career. Often I tell my crew that we are a customer service company that happens to clean windows. It’s as simple as that. If your customer service is good, you can offer any product or service and succeed.
Rule #1 - Answer your phone.
I have trouble believing that automated answering systems with touch-button choices save any business enough money to overcome the bad feelings customers have about it. No one I’ve ever discussed it with likes automated phone systems and very few people like leaving voicemails. If people call, they want to talk to a person.
We get so many customers in a year who call in and are grateful that they were able to get ahold of us. They’ve called several companies and gotten no answer, but when they call here, they speak to a person. After that, closing the sale is a piece of cake.
You can answer your phone. You can hire someone to answer it for you. You can hire a service to answer your phones. All of those are reasonable answers and all of them create goodwill. Just do it.
Rule #2 - Follow Up.
Another big complaint we hear is tradesmen promising to give an estimate and never delivering. “I called him 5 times over a month and he never got it to me.” So many people get busy and just stop doing the basic work to keep customers or prospects happy.
Some of the best advice I have been given is to sell hard when you’re busy, not when it’s slow. With the lag time between contact, proposal, and scheduling, selling when you’re busy ensures that you’ll have more work when you’re slow.
Keep doing the basic work of following up, returning calls and emails, sending texts, preparing bids, and answering questions. In my opinion it’s more important than field work every single time.
Rule #3 - Tell the Truth.
Did I really have to say it? Yes, I did. Many clients we have now are because previous contractors withheld information or strung them along with the mistaken belief that the client would never look for anyone else.
With the labor shortage last year and a pandemic and so many people spending their time at home, we were flooded with calls. We could have told prospects all kinds of things about scheduling, but we went with honesty.
“Unfortunately we don’t have the staff to get to you for 3 months.”
It was heartbreaking losing all that business, but we never got negative feedback about it. We got a lot of understanding and even some that were willing to wait for us. However, already this year several of those people have called in early and gotten on the calendar.
The thing about being completely honest up front is that you never have to apologize later. Try it.
Medical Malpractice: a Case Study
A recent study examined doctors who have been sued for medical malpractice and it found that doctors with poor bedside manner were twice as likely to be sued. What is bedside manner? Simply, it’s customer service. Patients who felt ignored, rushed, and who complained that their doctor didn’t explain things to them adequately sued when things went wrong, whereas doctors with good customer service found much more forgiveness and goodwill.
How does this apply to your business? People are generally the same whether seeking medical care or getting their washing machine serviced. If they feel like you care, are taking your time, and are explaining things to them, they are going to be happier, better customers even when things go wrong.
The data recovery company I used did get the information back to me eventually, but because of the problems with shipping and their responsiveness to the problem, I won’t be using them again. I will also never voluntarily use FedEx. If the customer service is too difficult for me or takes up too much of my time, I will find an alternative. So will your customers.
Customer Service Really Isn’t That Hard.
I’m here if you have questions.