Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Customer Service Rockstar

I’m a classic rock guy. I like other kinds of music, but my iPod is mostly filled with CCR, the Stones, Beatles, Hendrix, et al. As an entrepreneur I understand customer service. So I thought why not write a blog post combining the two? Sure it’s weird but having had several interesting experiences in customer service this past week I felt the need to share the my most basic principles of business and why not set it to music!

I believe customer service is at the core of business. No matter how cool your product is, if you aren’t taking care of your clients you are missing something…Below are my Customer Service lessons as told by the legends of Rock n Roll music.

1.Stand By Me - Ben E. King
This week we had a complaint come in regarding one of our products wasn’t up to snuff. It wasn’t performing as it should and that didn’t sit well with me. The client had paid their invoice and had already distributed the items across Canada and it had been months since we had originally delivered the products. It would have been easy for us to say, ‘30 day warranty’ or ‘return them for a replacement’ but in this case that wasn’t an option as they had already been distributed across Canada. We didn’t do that though. We’re replacing the products with a different product and one that will hold up to the demands of the client. It is a significant short term pain but will result in a long term gain because clients don’t forget when you go to bat for them.

The lesson: Stand by your clients. There are tons of companies that give you the ‘too-bad-so-sad’ reply when dealing with product issues. It will hurt financially in the short run but it’s so rare these days for someone to truly stand behind their products. Your client will remember that and likely tell a lot of people.

2.Get Back – The Beatles
This one is simple…’Get Back’ to your clients. I don’t know how many times I’ve sent an email to a supplier or vendor only to have no response for days. Yes, in the end they are working on it, but I had no idea when I would have answers or even confirmation that they had received the email! Not every client question can be answered in a matter of minutes but you have no idea how powerful the following line can be:

“Hi (Client), I’ve received your email and will have an answer/response/proof/etc to you by (specific time).

The few times that a supplier has done for me, I LOVE them for it. It allows me to be precise with my client. It allows me to put a reminder in my calendar that I’ll have an answer at this specific time.

The lesson: Get back to clients and give specific times for when things will be done. If you want to make them feel unimportant though, skip that step and get back to them whenever you have the answer and let them sweat.

3.Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
Alright so you don’t need to be flirty and suggestive with your clients but you can give them good vibes in many other ways. Have you ever been so happy with a company or service that just went over and above to give you a little extra? It’s a marginal thing for the company to go ‘the extra mile’ yet so many companies seem to overlook it. If you aren’t getting emails from your clients saying ‘YOU’RE THE BEST’ and ‘THANK YOU SO MUCH’ (caps intended) you’re probably not blowing them away as much as you might think you are. Giving clients good vibes can be as simple as sending them an interesting link that you know they would be interested in, or in our case, throwing in a unique garment with their company logo on it, just for them. The best example of ‘Good Vibes’ comes from our web company, NetGen. We contracted them to re-design our website and they did a fantastic job. We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. But the real happiness came when Fred, the web designer went and customized our blog to match our website. This was never part of the original contract and although it probably didn’t take Fred that long to do, it gave us at Festival a big case of the ’warm and fuzzies.’

The Lesson: Small, Marginal augmentations to your customer’s experience can pay off exponentially. Find a way to give your clients good vibes because your competitors probably aren’t.

4.I Walk the Line – Johnny Cash
This is probably one of the more obvious tips, but ‘walk the line.’ If you say you are going to do something do it. If you are looking for an easy example of what not to do, just take a page out of the Cell Phone companies book. They all claim to have great service and if you are purchasing a phone or plan you can get right through to a live person. If you have a problem though, you’ll wait a long time only to speak to an insincere and careless Customer Service Rep who really doesn’t give a crap about your issues. (Yes I know it’s not ALWAYS the case with the mobile carriers, but I’ve heard enough complaints about all of them to accurately make this generalization) If you say you have good customer service do it. If you say you are going to get back to someone do it. If you say you stand behind your product stand behind it.

The Lesson: In an age of limited warranties, fine print, asterisks, terms and conditions etc. too little emphasis is put on your word. Do what you say.

5.Who Are You – The Who
This maybe more of a marketing tip, but it serves just as well in customer service. Who Are you? Tell people, be open, let them know who you are! One of the biggest problems with corporate customer service is that we have no idea who the person on the other end of the phone is. By letting people know who you are either by social media, your website, and your interactions you create a different playing field when it comes to customer service. Clients will be easier to deal with because they know and trust you. Think about how effective transparency is. Remember the Seinfeld episode where George does the opposite of his every intuition? Now picture that in a customer service scenario when you’re calling a Call Centre and the agent starts “Hi, I’m Chuck. I’m 24, working my way through school, I like basketball, and secretly know the words to any Lady Gaga that comes on.” Too much information? Maybe, but you know the guy now and you’re already in a much more collaborative state of mind to take care of your customer service issues.

The Lesson: Let people know who you are. With all things being equal people work with people they like and when it comes to customer service you want to be working WITH your customers.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this post. This makes me rethink the way I deal with the promotional products I give away to my clients.