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5 Things Elite Customer Service Teams Never Do

Customer Service TipsThis is the title of an interesting article appear on Inc Magazine's website (Inc.com). It elicits a visceral response from myself because I am a firm believer in excellent customer service (CS). Poor or mediocre CS wants me to look elsewhere for service. Yesterday I went out to brunch with my wife and some friends. The restaurant charged me $4 for a strip and a half of bacon (as a side dish). I think we can agree that this poor service on their part. On leaving I told the girls at the reservation desk (the first people you see entering the establishment). Their response, a dead stare telling me they didn't care. Now that is bad Customer Service and they lost a customer. Unless you are a monopoly (and there are still some monopolies and a lot of oligopolies), and by definition service isn't important to you; then all other businesses should strive for world class customer service. A cloud accounting service provider I'm using gives phenomenal customer service. They set expectations; they usually exceed them and strive to give me an answer or work-around to my issue. As business leaders who always monitor that financial pulse, where the general mis-consensus of our duty is to cut costs, paying attention to such mundane departments as Customer Service or just our companies interaction with the public or our customers and vendors can mean the difference between success and failure. Where do you and your business stand on Customer Service?

Answers

Bryan Frey
Title: VP Finance/Corp Controller
Company:
(VP Finance/Corp Controller, ) |

I couldn't agree more. At a prior company our chairman decided to save money in, of all places, a customer service center we had that actually did not move the needle much on the cost side, but boy did it move the needle on the unhappy customer side of things! We had far more escalations up to management and more social media hits on our service. Not smart. That's not to say you can't run service intelligently and frugally, but in my experience going for significant cost savings there is frequently about a misguided strategy of what will best help the bottom line. All else being equal, a company with a better reputation for customer service will outsell competitors with worse service.

Topic Expert
Mike Caruana
Title: Director of Financial Services
Company: Diamond Resorts International
(Director of Financial Services, Diamond Resorts International) |

I agree...on both points. From the importance of exceeding expectations with every customer interaction to company's shortsightedness with cost cutting. Customer satisfaction is paramount in our organization. We have designated teams assigned to all customer complaints to ensure their concerns are researched and addressed timely...and we track them. Nothing like accountability to keep everyone on their toes.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Here's another example of bad Customer Service.

In another post, the Association of Certified Chief Financial Officers was mentioned.

So I took a look at their website, which evoked additional questions.

I sent a note on Dec 19th asking to speak to someone. I also sent another e-mail in January.

I'm still waiting for a reply. Would you join that type of organization?

Bob Scarborough
Title: CEO
Company: Tensoft, Inc.
(CEO, Tensoft, Inc.) |

The five things from the Inc article are:

1. After receiving the same inquiries over and over, reps start acting as human FAQ machines.
2. Deflecting responsibility becomes part of the culture.
3. Responses focus on the can't.
4. Follow-throughs slip through the cracks.
5. Redirecting customers to other channels without context.

Topic Expert
Mike Caruana
Title: Director of Financial Services
Company: Diamond Resorts International
(Director of Financial Services, Diamond Resorts International) |

No, Wayne. I would not join that type of organization.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

The reason being (I know my reason and assume yours is the same) no or very bad Customer Service.

ArLyne Diamond
Title: Owner - President
Company: Diamond Associates
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner - President, Diamond Associates) |

We pride ourselves on customer service, yet here in California in particular, we seem to fail the test of being good listeners and oriented to helping the customer. All too often I find two types of responses: 1: Defensive and attacking - they are right, the customer is wrong. 2: Pat answers from hearing one or two buzz words - it is as though they are plugging the word into the computer and coming out with an answer.

Many years ago, I started what I believe was the first ever customer service center for my employer, which was an international hospital supplier. My group handled all complaints and all discrepancies and made our customers feel good and want to continue to do business with us.

In my opinion, the primary goal of customer service is to serve the customer as well as humanly possible. Look, for example at the values of Ritz Carlton - or even In n Out Burgers. My favorite organization these days for customer service is Constant Contact. I've never been disappointed in the many years I've used them for my newsletter and other mailers. They are well trained and patient - they will help you complete your project no matter how much time it takes. They are fabulous and because of that, I've referred many other people to them.

Great customer service yields repeat business and new business.

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