Strategic Design | marketing & branding thoughts by Nick Rice

Dynamic marketing, branding & design strategies that span the gap between business & creative.


Carnivale of Customer Service

Maria Palma of "Customers Are Aways" invited me to be part of her Carnivale on customer service.

I believe that good customer service is pretty simple yet surprisingly difficult to execute. The very nature of service is putting someone else's need ahead of your own. In today's society, that is not something that comes natural to most. You truly have to want to help someone to succeed in customer service. It has to be part of your being.

Many moons ago, I started corporate American life in Tech Support. I was young and had never really worked with the general public before. In dealing with Tech Support calls, you really start off on a bad foot. Something is broken and it needs to be fixed - quickly and painlessly and there's a good chance it's out of warranty. On top of that, you're just a faceless voice on the other end of the phone. It's much easier to to go postal over the phone than it is when you're sitting across the table. At that time, the company was very focused on keeping customers and prospective customers happy. Tech Support was the face of the company's brand to 99% of the callers. We were instructed to be respectful, knowledgeable and empowered to do what we thought it would take to solve their problem. That's all great. Unfortunately a lot of teams were also praised for taking as many calls as possible and not giving away free service (parts, service calls, etc...). Think about the recent fiasco with AOL - but it never close to that situation. Regardless there in lies the rub. Some Tech Supporters were naturally geared towards call volume instead of truly helping each caller. Luckily I stayed in a product group that was very hands on and always went above and beyond to help each user. And they loved it. I would get thank you letters, gift baskets, Christmas cards - you name it. And the beauty was that you never knew who was connected to the person on the other end of the phone. I ended up solving problems for the CEO of Caterpillar, IBM board members, and author Stephen King as he was trying to finish a short story. It was great and I learned a lot about helping people.

So here are the lessons I learned and currently live by:
  1. Treat everyone - everyone - with courtesy and respect
  2. Answer all voice mails and emails before you leave the office every night
  3. Never over-promise on something you cannot deliver (it's much better to under-promise and over-deliver)
  4. Keep an eye on the little details - people notice
  5. Do what's right for the customer - 99% of the people simply want to be treated fairly
We're all consumers. We all have our own personal stories of bad service; they're hard to forget.

Good customer service can overcome a lot of product issues. At the end of the day, just do what your Grandma told you years ago - treat others like you want to be treated. If everyone just did that, the customer service industry would be entirely different.

technorati tags > customer, service, strategy, support, carnivale, maria palma

1 Responses to “Carnivale of Customer Service”

  1. # Anonymous Time recording systems

    Nice post, this post defines real meaning of customer service.  

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