This article is written from the perspective of a small business IT services provider, but good customer service is certainly not industry specific.
By definition (from Wikipedia) – Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during, and after a purchase. That definition shouldn’t require an adjective should it? Unfortunately, for too many service providers it isn’t a given that the service provided is “good.”
The interesting thing is we’ve all been on the receiving end of poor customer service at some point. It doesn’t take much effort to identify service that could only be identified as lacking right? Why then, does that not translate into doing it better ourselves?
I believe the answer is that we either never knew or have forgotten the golden rule. There are numerous articles that detail the 8 or 10 simple rules for good customer service. What if it was even simpler? What if there is only 1 rule you need to know. One rule that would govern everything you say and do in the course of providing service to your customers?
What if “treat others the way you want to be treated” really worked?
News flash – IT DOES!
Let’s break it down.
Before the sale – do I want to be pushed into purchasing something that benefits the seller more than the buyer? Do I want to pay more than necessary for an item? Do I like high pressure? Do I enjoy being misled?
During the sale – do I like it when people don’t show up when they say they will? Do surprises that cost me more just make my day? Should it be an anomaly when things actually work?
After the sale – is the disappearing provider trick one of my favorites? Should I have to pay twice for something that didn’t work the first time?
I realize these are all negative examples but really, do we need a list of the correct way to treat others? In the small business realm, often the customer has a single point of contact with your company. If that point of contact is you, then ultimately the product you’re selling is you. You’ve heard the phrase – the buck stops here? A customer’s entire experience with your company starts and stops with you. If that statement brings shame or regret, please refer back to the golden rule. It’s not too late to make “good” customer service a given.
What about those customers who haven’t read the golden rule? It’s inevitable that we come across those at some point. My practice has been to view everything in terms of relationship. Some relationships are great with very little effort. Some take a lot of work, and some are just not meant to be. I have turned away work when I became convinced that it wasn’t going to end well. Let’s face it. Some people are just not going to be happy. In that scenario, you have still treated them the way you want to be treated. You have their best interest in mind, and they typically are grateful for your honesty. If not, perhaps the best thing is for them to be referred to your competition.
One of the things I enjoy hearing is “you’re the first person we’ve had that actually knows what they’re doing.” While that statement is good for my business, it’s a bad sign for the state of the service industry. This article is writte