A guest post from Jared Griffith of Cinergy Wi-Fi. Jared allowed me to cross-post this from his new blog.
The Art of Customer Service
I came up with this title, after re-reading one of my favorite books. I am a great fan of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”. I admire his brilliance in military strategy, and his discipline to see his plans through no matter the cost. In my opinion he has what I call grit, determination and resolve to be excellent in all that he recommends.
I have tried to model my business efforts, somewhat after Sun Tzu. I try to create a tactical plan to serve my customers, and follow it through to the end. I have had the pleasure to work in different industries within the tech field since 1999. Some of my customers have been with me through various changes and companies. When asked why they continued to be loyal, they answered “trust and customer service”, From many conversations I came up with the following five words to describe the art of customer service.
Customer service really comes down to these five basic principals.
5. Follow Through
You are probably thinking, that’s a very simple list, what is this guy talking about? Yet I hear horror stories from customers all the time that these basic principals are lost in the industry, and they are willing to pay for them.
Take for example the first principal “Responsiveness”. We live in an age and time, were we can produce information from the Internet or Twitter in a matter of seconds. Customers tell me that some times it takes hours to days to get a response from their vendor, unless they have maintenance agreement or are asking for a quote. I know that sometimes an email or phone call comes in when you can’t take it or respond immediately. Most of us aren’t Jack Bauer and defusing a bomb constantly! With in 5 to 10 minutes we can usually make time to call, text, or email. This initial communication is critical in showing the customer “Commitment” our next principal.
Commitment makes me want to run towards a problem, and not away from it. As well as doing what ever it takes to see it through. Sometimes in organization you see sales people’s commitment end as soon as they receive a Purchase Order. In their mind, they have no more skin in the game. Some customer service people think that because they haven’t heard from the customer it must be fixed. There is no need to do a follow up call. Their commitment level is just not there. Each person should sit down with them selves and figure out just how committed they are at what their doing in life. Then be honest with all people and let them know up front, where they plan on getting off the commitment bus, or are they going to see it at the end of the line. With Commitment to your customers this will build “Trust” our third principal.
Trust is a beautiful thing if you have it, and it can be a big black eye if you loose it. Customers don’t just hand trust out easily. That is why many times the sales cycle takes so long. Customers will have you do a series of events, to see if you are trustworthy enough to go to the next level with in their organization. Some customers have trust in a product, some in the company their buying the product from. No customer buys something with out some level of trust. Once their trust is earned, you have to maintain it, by always telling the truth, even when the truth will cause an issue. The customer has the right to always know it, and their “BS” detectors can filter wither or not their getting it pretty quickly. The keys to the kingdom are only given to a trustworthy person.
Honesty and trust go hand in hand, honesty is the fastest way to earn trust. If some one asks you a question, you have to choices to be honest or not. If you always go down the path of being honest, you can have a poor memory and get through life unscathed. If the customer asks you something and you don’t know the answer, I always say I don’t know, but give me a little bit and I will find out. It actually gives you credibility with people, and isn’t an insult on your intelligence. Nobody knows everything, and if they think they do, they just aren’t being honest with themselves.
Follow Through – this is a favorite of mine. I grew up in Idaho working on a farm, and my father always told me and I quote “ there is a beginning, a middle, and an end to every job. With out one of those parts completed the work is never done”. You have to finish what you started, its that simple call the customer and ask them if you have taken care of the problem and if everything is now okay. If you start a task with a customer, you have to follow through till the end. If you follow these steps and embrace them, you will be known as a person that has a commitment of excellence.
So remember, to provide great customer service, just remember these five simple items:
5. Follow Through