Stories of poor customer service are legendary; especially at this time of year. It seems everyone has a tale of woe. The clerk who doesn’t know and/or doesn’t care; the voice mail system with endless hoops to jump through to get to a human being (if you even can); the surly fast food attendant; part-timers who may not be trained. You get the idea.
Understand that the playing field has changed. Just ask any employer who’s trying to hire people. It’s common knowledge in hiring, that sadly, you may need to lower your standards. As I’ve said, sometimes we hire people because they’re breathing. Even then, it’s harder than it’s been in many years to find good help. So what can you do to help?
Here are some ways to get the customer service you’d like to (and should) receive:
- Don’t be shocked or get angry at less than great service. You’ll make it worse. Be realistic. Expect somewhat lower standards of customer service. You may be dealing with a new hire that probably has had very little training and perhaps no experience. But there’s hope. Read on.
- You can actually influence the type of customer service you get. Just as an angry customer often has negative emotions mirrored by the salesperson, so will a good greeting from you get results. We use this approach a lot. We were in Las Vegas and walked up to a rushed, harassed, upset hostess. Instead of being insulted, demanding, or giving her back cold treatment, we said “Good. We’re getting a cheery hostess who’s going to take very good care of us.” She took a deep breath and we were rewarded with a big smile and gracious service. She may have just had the customer from hell. But she wasn’t going to take it out on us. We weren’t going to allow it.
- Plan how to win them over. I know, it should be up to the help to woo and win over the customer. And you’re right. That may come back some day, but for now, especially in the holiday season, the tables are often turned. You may need to exert some effort if you want a pleasant experience.
- Sometimes it does take a second effort. The last few experiences the other person had may have been brutal. Do what you can to establish a friendly atmosphere. Smile and be in a good mood. Take control of the situation. By the end of the transaction, you’ll probably be having a far more positive relationship. Be obviously friendly and smiling. It is contagious.
- Accept the occasional situation where nothing works. Don’t take it personally. And try not to get frustrated. Don’t YOU be the bad guy. That salesperson or employee will be abrasive to the customers that follow you as he was to the ones before you. But if you want to enhance the majority of your customer service experiences, you can. You definitely can influence the customer service you receive.
As a consumer, take more responsibility. Radiate your own good mood and attitude and see if you’re not treated better.
Nancy Friedman is the President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training in St. Louis, MO. ( www.nancyfriedman.com ). She is one of the top customer service experts in the country, known for her presentations and training session to small and mid-sized businesses and associations.