Lessons learned on summer vacation

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Experts agree that vacations are necessary for all of us. They give our minds (and bodies) chance to rest and recharge, and no matter what the notion conjures up for you, those precious vacation days are a chance to relax, refresh and reflect. Even a 24 hour break can be a huge help.
And if you’re like many Americans, that’s about all the vacation time you’re going to get.
So you may, as I did, find it beyond irritating to encounter bland, indifferent customer service during your time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Especially when you’ve paid a good, fair price for something or are a customer of long standing. Sadly, there are still businesses out there who routinely make some of the most obvious customer service mistakes. Mistakes like…

  1. Responding (with pride), “Oh we don’t understand all that that internet stuff here.” Even if you have never touched a keyboard in your life, and you have no idea what a web address is, admitting your ignorance, with pride no less, is not the way to go. You sound foolish, out of touch — not the traits a thriving, competitive businesses wants to convey. No matter what your level of technical knowledge, it’s best to keep your ignorance a secret. You might consider, “I’m not that good on the computer yet, but I’ll find someone who can help you.”
  2. Not addressing complaints/concerns promptly (or ever). Even if the answer can’t be “Absolutely, we’ll take care of that,” you need to say SOMETHING. Ignoring the issue is not the way to win a customer’s heart or future business. Acknowledging the situation with a sincere,”I’m still working on it.” will go a long way though. No response gives the impression you don’t care, leaving your customers easy prey for another business who DOES (or appears to) care.
  3. Focusing (and readily sharing) your problems. Pointing out staff shortages, lack of materials or staggering workloads isn’t what customers want to hear from you — especially when they have a problem. They want action, ready assurance and confidence that the issue will be resolved. Share your problems and you erode what confidence a customer has in you. If you must, pull your hair out behind the scenes, far from outside eyes, while always, always presenting a composed, can-do attitude everywhere else.

It’s hard to believe all THREE of these mistakes were made by ONE business, but they were. Of course this business is the single gateway to a limited quantity of something rather desirable, so replacing one customer with another is easy for them. They don’t have to care.
As for the rest of us, who can’t replace customers so readily, these real life examples (hopefully) give you something to think about, to guard against in your own dealings with customers.

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