Your Opinion – Customer Service

Today’s topic is Customer Service, your opinion.

My question is – What does customer service mean to you as either (both or all) – a) a customer, b) an employee/self-employed delivering customer service or c) as a business owner/manager with staff giving customer service.

Background – One of my commenters yesterday mentioned customer service. He felt that he was being manipulated by his employer into being someone not authentic, and a bit of a people pleaser. Also I assume his employer was using it as a bit of carrot and a stick to control him. So hence the initial thought, and some potential negative aspects.

Having worked in retail, run my own businesses, worked as a support technician in IT, worked for internal clients as an IT developer and been a customer myself on many many occasions I’ve seen it from many different angles. As an employee delivering customer service, I enjoy building rapport and enjoy helping positive friendly people in the buying choices they are making. A a manager it’s a good feeling to have resolved a problem, customer leaves happy. As a business owner it reflects well on my business if my staff are knowledgeable, proficient, positive and friendly. So businesses and individuals that I personally endorse, my word, my recommendation, are people that have been helpful, friendly and given good customer service.

I make a lot of buying choices based around the way people treat me, rude, bored, ignorant sales assistant, I just leave and go elsewhere, provided I have a choice, sometime I don’t.

Bottom line in these days of outsourcing, many without jobs or on lower incomes, call centers run by the indigenous peoples of wherever, mean spirited penny-pinching businesses and corporations and of course computer automation, is that the personal customer care that makes customers feel important and special, and want to do business, has suffered, and suffered very badly.

WordPress.com support is a good example of where there is excellent customer service, and one of the reasons that I personally endorse and use myself WordPress.com.

DonCharisma.org Opinion Graphic
DonCharisma.org Opinion Graphic

Please note: Good manners are a mark of a charismatic person – so please keep comments civil, constructive and related to the topic, or they will be moderated. Thank you for your co-operation. Warm regards, Don Charisma


48 thoughts on “Your Opinion – Customer Service

  1. I think good customer service is expected in all venues, and I will go the extra mile for anyone who provides me good CS. I have been known to give great tips as well as positive feedback to a company whose employee provided me exceptional customer service.

    On the opposite end, my own position is 85% providing customer service to EMTs and Paramedics, as well as Emergency Room physicians, nurses, etc. I don’t care what kind of day I’m having personally, when I’m in my office, I always provide exceptional CS to those I serve. It’s the right thing to do.

  2. I honestly believe in being kind, especially this time of year. It makes a stressful time of year a little easier. That said, I do run across customer service that is less than kind, when that happens I usually walk away, and as much as I can, I try not to return any rudeness. I think customer service is important, but also it is important to be good customer. To be unkind and still expect to be treated well is ridiculous and juvenile.

  3. Like yourself, I have spent many years working in customer support. From answering service operator to computer support technician. The friendly and grateful customers are the majority, but those other people can really burn you out. Ha!
    I’m so glad you came by ‘Not Pretending’ and decided to follow along 😉 As a person who always wished I was charismatic, I will be reading much more of you!

    1. Hey Jodi, yes, totally:)

      Charismatic is subjective, people’s definitions vary. I quite like Richard Branson’s which is essential “just being yourself”. For me it’s a lot to do with being happy and creative, and enjoying my life and what I’m doing.

      Warm regards

      DC

  4. I lived in France for over twenty years where customer service in the monopolies and big chains was non existent…hostility met you when you needed assistance or had a problem.
    I am now in Costa Rica…I can have problems with bureaucracy and the monopolies, but never on the same level as in France.

    1. I’ve experienced hostility and downright rudeness in the UK, but not to the same level by the sounds !

      The French do have a reputation for being hostile towards outsiders, especially British, I think down to historical arguments. But then I don’t know where you are from, so not sure if that’s a factor.

      When I visited Paris I don’t remember receiving any bad service, generally good actually. I just really couldn’t believe how expensive it was, VAT, and then a city tax ! Oh and the room in our hotel was absolutely tiny:)

      Costa Rica sounds lovely, lucky you 🙂

  5. Have experienced customer service in all 3 ways. Always tried to be polite and friendly to customers, keeping a smile on my face and guiding them to the correct places. As employer, tried to teach my employees about my business, and how to do things competently, and would step in and do it myself if necessary. Now, when needing assistance myself, go out of my way to appreciate good service by calling store managers and praising the employee who has helped me. And when given bad service, as with my last encounter with ATT, I rated them 1 on all parts of survey, just because I was without service for 3 weeks, while calling them every day, asking friends to call them for me, and being promised each time a technician would be here each time. After 3 weeks and broken shoulder with no way to call for help, called them in tears and threatened suicide with them as cause if they did not get line hooked up NOW! Technician here next morning, problem solved. ATT had tried to set up system my building is not wired for. If they had sent the tech as promised he could have told me the first day, and I could have had means to call for help when I fell. I was polite at beginning of the ordeal, but after 3 weeks had lost my last nerve with them and would have rated them zero if they had that number on the chart.

  6. I work in customer service for the local cable company. and I can tell you good customer service is as much about the one providing the service as the one who is being served. I make an effort to provide great customer service on every call. Never over sell (commission aside) i would rather created a customer for life than someone who is going to cancel in 6 months because they were over sold an there bill more than doubles after there promotion. customers also have a responsibility to treat there customer service agent with respect and not make unreasonable demands for credits and other things simply on the basis of a being a customer. as i said to one friend once “you not entitled to a promotion by virtue of being a customer because promotions are not about value, there about attracting new business, the non customer has no value to us, we offer a promo so they become of value to the business”. when consumers understand that its amazing how there perspective can change on customer service.

    1. That’s a great point about the customer also being responsible for the service they recieve. At the end of the day it’s a commercial/business transaction, and that’s a two way street, virtue needs to be in both directions for trust.

      I get your point about the promos. I understand the logic. However I’ve been a little annoyed in the UK to find that I can get the same deal much cheaper as a new customer, and not as an existing customer. I think that this may promote hopping from one company to another, rather than retaining customers, especially in hard financial times such as now. So could be shooting themselves in the foot with that one.

      In the UK my current electricity supplier have now made it very difficult for me to transfer my business by not registering the service properly so the new company can’t take it over. To say I’m annoyed is an understatement.

  7. Customer service or its lack thereof is one of my biggest bugbears. When I worked in retail it was drummed into me that when you were serving a customer, you NEVER spoke to anyone other than that customer and you thanked them and wished them well. Nowadays, in most shops, the customer is treated as an inconvenience and I have been in places where conversations have been continued on mobile phones as I have been served. It gets my goat and makes me angry… it is a basic lack of respect. But.. what can you do? Thanks for a thought provoking thought! LOL.

    1. Give the employees a locker and tell them to leave their mobile phone there until the end of the shift ?

      And yes I’m sure most of seen lazy customer service that stinks, and then on the same day, someone who tries their hardest to bend over backwards to do their best job 🙂

  8. I read the comments above and I wish that most customers cared as much about customer service as your readers do. I agree with those that base their buying on customer service. In my case, I won’t return. I won’t tip. I will not refer. And, I don’t mind expressing my disappointment as I believe businesses need to learn where they can improve. However, if customer service trumps price or at least is comparable, why do these monolithic warehouse stores (where you find the product on your own after walking through several area codes, arrive at check-out to check out yourself, and then return home to install the device yourself) thrive? I only wish people cared more about customer service and drove their buying based a little more on it – then we would have better shopping and buying experiences

    1. Hey thanks for your comment.

      In a word, price. For instance I usually fly cheapest flight I can get, prefer to book airlines that I like, but I use price comparison site, otherwise I just wouldn’t be able to check all the prices with all the websites. Latest ticket I bought through an agent was cheaper than the airline itself, and I spend several hours adjusting dates to get the best price. I’m lucky I got a seat on Etihad, which I’ve had excellent service from before, at an outstanding price, really awesome.

      I’m not a cheap-skate, just really genuinely need to make every penny count. In a world of ideals I’d be flying first class Emirates, British Airways or Maybe Etihad on my regular route. And customer service would be the deciding factor. But as it stands I have to make the best possible use I can of my available money.

      The other thing that springs to mind is overly helpful sales people. I often like to look around a shop/store at my own pace, do my best to find what I’m looking for don’t necessarily want to have to describe and sometimes I don’t know what I’m looking for. Browsing at my own pace in my own thoughts.

      The other situation I’ve had is where sales people want to sell you what suits them best, ie best commission, this is utterly useless for me a complete waste of my time.

      So it’s not easy balance for retail staff to get, especially with stresses and strain imposed by their managers and their own personal lives. My manager says I’ve got to 100 units, so I’ll pressure this customer or I’ll pester this customer as soon as he walks through the door.

      So those are a couple of things. Often smaller businesses can’t compete purely on price with the warehouse down the road, a harsh fact, but the truth. The warehouse is part of chain and they have massive buying power. So the smaller business’ main option is to provide better customer care. And be aware of things customer may be screening for like the overly pushy sales people, the sales people who want what’s best for them and I’m sure there are others.

      Not a “complete” answer, but hope that’s useful

      Warm regards

      DC

  9. Customer Service, IMO, is the essence of ensuring that the client/customer has a memorable experience. Customers will always remember the 2 extremes of a representative. They will remember the most helpful and efficient desk clerk with the great smile OR they will remember the ‘lack-lust’ desk clerk that seemed to be distracted and not making the customer feel welcomed. 2 extremes of the spectrum; The Good and The Bad.

    From my experience, all customer service jobs descriptions states something on the lines of …
    …’you must greet each customer with a smile/eye contact/undivided attention.’
    ….be presentable in a professional manner.
    ….Never have a customer waiting on you. if YOU seem to be overwhelmed with customer, let the customers know that you’ll be right with them in a few mins. They will understand.

    Again, training is important in every aspect. I’ve seen so many jobs where the attendant doesn’t have the personality nor the drive to make each and every customer happy.

    IF YOU CAN’T SMILE AND BE HELPFUL, MAYBE YOU SHOULD STAY IN THE BACK AND WATCH THE COMPANY’S TRAINING VIDEO AGAIN. SOOOOO, THE NEXT TIME YOU WALK OUT THE DOOR, YOU BETTER HAVE A SMILE AND GREET ME WITH A ‘HELLO’, HOW MAY I HELP YOU?

    (I apologize for screaming……I’m venting. wwoooosaass)

    1. You’re obviously passionate about this, guessing your supervising customer service people !

      And yes those do seem to be very good guidelines. But I think also managers and supervisors need have some patience with staff, radiating joy and positivity for a long shift is a tiring day, badly behaved customers make for an even longer day.

      My experience as an employee was that a really awesome supervisor or manager, makes all the difference. And he’ll need the support of his bosses and so on right up to the top. So it’s an organisation wide thing, not just for the individuals facing customers.

      Warm regards

      DC

      1. Your right. It does make a world of a difference. Upper management makes all the decisions for the training and guidelines that needs to be followed to achieve maximum customer satisfaction. When those regulations aren’t met by the co workers, it becomes a very chaotic work environment.

      2. Quality organisation is from the bottom right up to the top, so everyone has to think about delivering good customer service and think about making the jobs of customer facing employees as smooth as possible 🙂

        Merry Christmas, Don Charisma

  10. well, I guess one of my jobs in my youth was pretty much the ultimate customer service position, as I worked the front desk of a rather snooty country club. We had to kiss butt no matter what, so I was trained well to swallow my temper and make whoever was irate to feel good about themselves. And we had some real nuts, let me tell you. In fact, I have considered writing a book one day about my adventures at said country club.

    1. Yes I hadn’t thought about those kinds of customer service jobs working for the “elite”. I imagine that the employees are better paid, but “the monied” often are much ruder and couldn’t care less about the small man. So yes I can imagine that would be worth writing a book about – name and shame ’em, that’d be a just “revenge” LOL

      Cheers

      DC

      1. I’m thinking of the time a skunk marched into one of the formal dining rooms right in the middle of the dinner rush (ground floor room and the doors were all open on account of a broken AC…old building) ……..:D

      2. Awesome, I’ve got a couple of those myself, best revenge I’ve found is when the other person does it to themselves without me needing to do anything, “guilt free revenge” perhaps 😉

  11. This is a good one and like you; I have the very wide view from a lot of management/training experience.

    For me, I find that with the online component, serving the customer is extremely important. They have more choices than ever these days. A trend I hate is that top company positions across the board are being filled with “bean counters” as compared to the experts in the field with Human Resource or Operational Management experience. They want to cut and cut at the expense of the experience for the customers and employees alike. Then they scratch their collective heads when the numbers fall.

      1. I wish I could tell you all about my current employer. There are so many variables involved. It’s a classic story of mismanagement.

        I just ended up there after a very long bout of unemployment and was brought there by someone to straighten out problems. A huge problem is that far above us, the penny pinching collective is not getting it. They get it when huge issues occur of course.

        Well, if I ever start up my own business, I know how to lay out a lot of the ground work early that prevents many of the problems that a company will find out when they become problems later.

  12. It’s ironic that as I’m about to sit down and write a post about customer service at the USPS, this was at the top of my “to read” list! Having worked in retail management my entire life, it seems that the majority of my conversations with my workers is about how to improve customer service because as the world becomes more tech-savy and computerized human interactions become even more important. Is it fair that a customer having a bad day takes it out on you? No. Nor is it fair that you take your bad day out on a customer. But as lauramackey alluded to above, customer service is possible and when we stop expecting it, it will truly be lost. As such (like lauramackey), I’m apt to write a letter or call when customer service is bad and makes me want to take my business elsewhere. I think The Crazy Crone summed it up best (for both sides of customer service) that a smile and a kind word never go amiss.

    1. Yes I agree, very much with you.

      However my caveat was – there are limits of what can be expected in terms of good humour, positivity etc. Rude and abuse people I don’t tolerate, not online, not in real life. Depending on the severity it might be a warning, a shown the door, a forcibly ejected and or call the police. Not terribly fond of overly pushy people either. And people who lie and manipulate, well not good either. So to add to this, there probably ought to be some thought put into how to deal with those kinds of problems. Some can be brought around by people with good social skills, patience and not reacting so much, some customers are just rotten, need to be dealt with firmly and swiftly.

      Warm regards

      DC

  13. Customer Service isn’t *everything*, but it’s definitely in the top three. I am a firm believer in it, having worked in retail, phone support as well as in sales. I believe it is essential to a customer base. Take a car mechanic for instance. Hard to find one that you trust. But, find one with good customer service skills, (not just the fluff, but real customer oriented) and you’ll be a repeat customer. At least I am with my mechanic. Also, my wife annually buys a “Kringle” pastry from a place in WI. Last year to no fault of their own, the delivery of a gift Kringle was delayed to my in-laws. Not only did this company send out another immediately, they sent *US* out one as well because we ordered it and had to suffer the disappointment of a gift with delayed timing. *THAT* to me was true customer service and how to build a wonderful customer base. If I may advertise here, the business is: http://www.ohdanishbakery.com. I am not affiliated with them at all, other than a very satisfied customer.
    I will pay extra tips in restaurants for good service, I will ask to speak to a phone supports supervisor to brag on them for good service. I will go the extra mile for those who know how to treat a customer. Absolutely. Without Question!

  14. Those of us who offer a service are in competition with thousands of other providers in the same industry be it retail, hospitality, publishing. With the Internet it is no longer you and Mr. Jones down the road. If your product, price and delivery are the same then you have to find that connection with your customer that offers them recognition of their value to you. Customer service is reflected in customer retention. Most businesses spend a great deal of money attracting that customer in the first place and if they walk because of rudeness or indifference it is not just his future business you will lose, but the 20 odd people he tells about it and your original stake. Every member of a business in every department, including the CEO should be customer focused trained.

  15. A very good question.
    When I shop, personal or online, I only come back, if the service is okay. If I have a problem with the bought item and they treat it in a good positive manner, I come back. Otherwise I find a new shop next time.
    I did also run my own businesses and do also now, and I think, it it very important to have satisfied customers. If they are complaining, I always try to find a good solution for both of us.
    To have positive employers are very important.
    Irene

  16. I can tell you know what customer service is all about. I managed commercial development projects for a company for 25 years and I had many customers and dealt with them on an hourly basis, lol. Some I dealt with on a consistent basis and those were really the easier ones because we built a rapport, but the ones that were the occasional customer were the challenges. They were the ones that felt they could yell at me to get things done for them. But, even the yellers I treated the same. I gave everyone the same “service” as I would expect. Therein lies my problem….I really can’t stand bad customer service because I know it’s possible to give it. So when I get bad customer service…I usually write a letter, lol.

    1. Agree. Personally there are limits in what I would put up with customers, shouting, giving orders, they might get shown the door or in the worse cases police called. My condition on giving good customer service is provided I receive civility from customers. However I appreciate it may not be that simple for those depending on their employer for wages to live.

  17. As far as service is concerned, if it’s poor I simply don’t return. When I first got to North Cyprus, I went to a cafe where I was served coffee with milk that had gone off. I returned it, the guy was sloppy and resentful at having to replace the coffee and milk, and I’ve never gone back. But I’ve also been to places where people are incredibly friendly and helpful and I’ll return again and again. On the other hand, I do try to be as friendly as possible to those in the service industries, ie, wait staff, check-out staff, call centre staff, and so on, because these jobs can be stressful and put people under a lot of pressure. A smile and kind word never go amiss and both my husband and myself try to treat people the way we’d like to be treated. Because people work in service industries it doesn’t mean they are less than you or I – conscientious, hard-working people deserve as much respect as any other worker, whether paid more, much more or less.

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