Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Extraordinary Customer Service

I normally dedicate this blog to issues related to leadership. It is my passion and what I love to talk about and deal with. But, as I pondered what to post this week my subject became very clear. Like you, I have had quite a few distasteful experiences with customer service departments, especially those from very large multi-nationals.

I typically walk away from those phone calls feeling like they could care less about me and my patronage. I am just a small fish, and a very small one at that, in their very large ocean of customers. They have their rigid policies and procedures and force me to converse with people who can't think (or who at least are told not to think), just push the company line and get off the phone and on to the next call as quickly as possible.

In the last two days, however, I have had three, overwhelmingly positive experiences. I have had two different conversations with AT&T and one with Allstate. Wow! They were great!

In one case, I was asked by the computerized receptionist, prior to being connected to a human being, if I wanted to participate in a survey at the end of the call that would give me an opportunity to comment on my experience. I, of course, said "no." By the end of the call, as I was hanging up, I really wished I had said "yes" so I could sing the praises of this very kind, very helpful person who had been on the other end of the line.

There were two common characteristics to all three calls.

First, the people spoke very clear, very intelligent English. I understood their names without them having to repeat it, and I understood every word they said. It was amazing. I have absolutely nothing against people from other countries. In fact, I really enjoy interacting with people from other countries and cultures. But, in the midst of dealing with some aggravating problems, especially over the phone, it was very refreshing to talk with someone who I knew understood my problem and whose responses I understood clearly.

The second thing that stood out was how friendly the people were. And their kindness came across as very authentic, not scripted. Their tone of voice was very pleasant and relaxed and they seemed genuinely interested in helping me. I was so surprised I almost didn't know how to deal with it. But, it was great! My problems got solved and I moved on with my day with a very pleasant "taste in my mouth."

And, here's the thing. It wasn't that complicated. It didn't take that long. They didn't impress me with their amazing technical knowledge or savvy problem-solving skills. They simply communicated clearly and kindly. Now how much can that cost?

How are you treating your customers/clients? What kind of taste do you and your people leave in their mouths? How much does it cost to be kind?

Create some raving fans! Seize the day!

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