How easy are you to do business with?
“BMW Service, good morning.”
“Hello,” I said. “I’d like to bring my car in for service.”
“What kind of car do you have?”
“A BMW,” I reply.
“Do you know your vehicle identification number?”
I laugh. “No, I don’t. Do you know yours?”
She laughs. “No, I don’t.”
I go on, “Why don’t you just ask me my name?”
“OK. What’s your name?”
“Emily Huling.” I spell it for her.
“Oh, there you are and there’s all your vehicle information!”
I couldn’t resist asking her why she didn’t ask me my name in the first place. She told me BMW requires that she get all the vehicle information. I told her that if she first determines whether the caller has ever used their service, she’d be able to bring up all the information immediately. She replied, “We don’t do it that way.”
Just another example of how good intention (obtaining accurate information) can interfere with a customer’s ease of doing business. Frequently each of us encounters customer service situations that could be improved. Here are some examples of service trouble spots with suggestions on how to ease customers’ business dealings.
Telephone automation. Automated reception and individual voice mailboxes still lead the list of customer frustration. Callers want to have access to a live person. The trend in business today is to do away with automated answering systems. I have clients who tell me that live telephone reception has actually earned them business. If you have an automated answering system, have someone unfamiliar with your business and system test it and report on his or her experience. Make the necessary changes to make callers feel that you want their business.
Voice mailbox. A very good business tool when used properly. Most people know by now that your outgoing message should be current to let the caller know when calls will be returned. One of my clients has a system that automatically forwards the calls that haven’t been retrieved in two hours to an associate’s phone. Those calls are then listened to and returned. Monitor your company’s voice mailbox usage to be sure all associates are adhering to your customer service standards.
Parking spaces. Customers want easy access to a business. Do you have enough available parking spaces close to your entry? Employees and vendors may need to be reminded that the closest parking spots should be reserved for customers.
Customer service e-mail box. Many web sites advise “E-mail customer service for a fast response.” All too often, three days later you’re still waiting for a reply! This problem is easily solved by using an auto-response program to let customers know the message was received and when a reply will be coming. Follow through on your commitment.
Acknowledge people who are waiting to be helped. All of us have waited in long lines to check into a hotel, return an item at a service desk, or mail a package. Employees who make eye contact and sincerely say, “Thank you for your patience. We’ll be with you as soon as we can.” earn a lot of customer service points. Let your customers know you empathize and appreciate their support.
Every business encounters obstacles that get in the way of providing outstanding service such as staff shortages, technology challenges, and training issues. Successful organizations eliminate or work around obstacles to keep customers happy. After all, it’s customers who sustain and grow business.
Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc. P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802 Fax: 888-309-7355