How to Lose Customers the Easy Way
By Don Porter CBE
In an era when competing on price is becoming less viable, customer service is fast becoming a unique selling point. In a quest to offer high standards of service as a way of differentiating themselves from competitors, many organisations are investing significant resources in designing and implementing new technologies, distribution channels, products, even logos and interiors.
While this is all well and good, often the drive to enhance service standards is undermined by a failure to address the cultural issues of customer service. Time and time again, customer surveys highlight the same service failings, the majority of which relate to employees and their attitudes and behaviour. These areas include unhelpful staff, staff with little product knowledge, no enthusiasm or a distinct unwillingness to accept responsibility.
The Seven Deadly Sins of Customer Service
At MSB we have identified seven common and immensely irritating service failings that could and should be avoided. We call them “The Seven Deadly Sins of Customer Service”.
1. “Have a nice day now!”
Nothing is guaranteed to irritate customers more than a false smile and a glib greeting. It makes people cringe when someone delivers a throwaway line just because they’ve been told to be “nice” to the customer. Scripted greetings make the staff sound like parrots and don’t impress anyone; sincerity and individuality are a far better approach.
2. “I’ll just put you through to somebody else who might be able to help”
Being bounced round a phone system, having to repeat your story over and over again, getting increasingly worked up, just to be palmed off on someone else who can’t help. A frequently occurring and immensely frustrating scenario!
3. “It’s not company policy!”
Well, change the policy! Whatever happened to the old adage that the customer is always right? How many times have you wanted to pay by company AMEX and couldn’t? How many times have you wanted to get an English breakfast at five past eleven and couldn’t?
4. “And he said … well, I can tell you, I wasn’t standing for that, so I said …”
Personal conversations should be kept to personal time. Customers are busy people and do not have the time nor the inclination to listen to service representatives waxing lyrical about their love life!
5. “Err, I’m not sure really … I only work here on Saturdays”
Indifferent staff with little product knowledge are the scourge of weekend shopping. Part-time should refer to the length of hours worked, not the motivation or knowledge level.
6. Queuing, queuing, queuing …
The British may have invented queuing, but isn’t making the customer wait a throwback to lunchtime closing and post-war rationing? Companies spend millions persuading consumers they want to buy the products and services on offer, then keep them waiting to actually make the purchase!
7. Avoiding eye contact
How are you meant to warm to someone and trust them if they refuse to look you in the eye? This is the most inexcusable sin of all – maintaining eye contact costs nothing, takes no training and builds loyalty faster than any points scheme.
This article was written by Don Porter CBE, Joint Managing Director of MSB.
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