The wonderful world of Customer Service

Customer Service Consistency – ‘But it wasn’t my fault’

I am living the dream at the moment – going through the second bathroom renovation in as many months, with three teenagers at home.  The jostling for position is as crazy as Bingo on pension day, (which, by the way, I have had the pleasure of experiencing!).

Having spent most of my working life in Customer Service, this renovation experience has found me reflecting on how diligently I have or have not delivered consistent customer service to those I was servicing. Or more precisely, are my team and I are doing what I am now experiencing?

Let me explain.

Reno #1

The company I had doing the work for me came out of the gates hard, with phone calls every day, constant follow up, and friendly staff.  It was all too good to be true! But, as the renovation progressed, the customer service deteriorated to the distant sound of crickets. We, the customer, now having to do the follow up to see how they were going, where we are at, and seeking some form of clarification as to how everything would be wrapped up. The last proactive call we have had was to collect monies on uncompleted works.  You can imagine how well that went down.

Reno #2

Reno #2 started as well as Reno #1 ended.  No one knew what was going on, when, how or why. The icing on the cake was definitely the Friday that the plumber installed the new bathroom taps and then departed. Upon my arrival home, I took an inquisitive look at progress and see we had a steady flow of drips from the tap causing significant damage to plaster in the roof downstairs and surrounding timber work. Not ideal but manageable!

To make a long story short, I found myself standing toe to toe with the very ‘personable’ (insert sarcasm here) and significantly bigger plumber who clearly did not want to be out on a Friday at 7:30pm enjoying my comedic banter about my leaking tap. The first comment out of his mouth when he saw the situation was, “that’s not my fault – it’s going to cost you”, delivered with the empathy of a velvet sledgehammer!

That very comment is what captured my attention. How quickly do we react with similar responses when faced with similar circumstances?

The Professional in me would suggest that I NEVER do this.  But the reality is that we all probably have our ‘7:30pm on Friday night’ moments where we conduct ourselves in a manner that is far from ideal. I know I do at least. The challenge is in how we arrest these moments to make them fewer and far between.

The challenge is in how we arrest our ‘Friday night at 7.30pm’ moments to make them fewer and far between. #customerserviceconsistency

 

When it comes to setting a standard for Customer Service, here are five consistencies that the team of professionals I work with are doing as much as possible:

  1. As the customer facing representatives of our business, if there is a problem, then we take responsibility for it and deal with it regardless of where the issue lies. ‘It’s not my fault’ is not an answer and the last thing someone experiencing issues wants to hear.
  2. When looking for the best person to make a difference, find a mirror!
  3. Resolve issues the way you would like them resolved when faced with the same issues.
  4. We will often fall short or miss the mark but don’t let that stop you from trying.
  5. It may not seem important to us, but always remember, that it is to the customer.

 

Whilst I suffer from the highs and lows of business (as we all do), it has been a desire to deliver a ‘consistent’ level of Customer Service that helped me through the various roles I have had the pleasure of caretaking.

If all else fails?  Head down to your local Bingo hall on that infamous Pension Day and embrace the confusion of Jimmy Choo – 32, Two fat ladies – 88, Chicken Vindaloo – 52 and the old, Legs – 11!

Are you prepared to fail your way to success?

What have I really got to lose? Am I prepared to fail in my efforts to succeed?

How many times a day do you think, ‘I don’t want to do that or I don’t like to do that’?

For me, I have thoughts like this every day and working in a sales environment I know many many peers experience the same feelings. However, it’s the ones that admit this and deal with it that seem to be successful in their craft.

I don’t always want to walk through a front door, or I don’t want to make that phone call or speak to the customer with a problem, but the reality is: What have I really got to lose?

Below are photos of a RAAF New Testament Bible – not just any but that of my beloved Grandfather, Wilfred Thomas Harrison. Given to him the day he went into the armed forces. The front and back pages hold inscriptions from his mother dated February 1942 – just prior to being dispatched to fight for our country in a war he didn’t want to fight; a war he didn’t start; and a war he lost great buddies in.

The reality is, he had no choice.

I keep this book on my desk to remind me that, thanks to him and many like him, I am lucky and blessed for what he did and what he gave. What he gave me is a choice – something he never had.

I sell stuff, and it’s not going to kill me and I suppose I don’t have to do this for a living. I have a choice. What I sell is far from sexy, however, I do love people and I love helping people – that’s why I do what I do.

What I sell is far from sexy, however, I do love people and I love helping people – that’s why I do what I do.

Seeing a customer is not going to kill me. Calling a customer is not going to kill me. Making a mistake is not going to kill me. Losing a deal is not going to kill me. Yet, helping someone by selling them useful and meaningful solutions is extremely rewarding.

I was recently talking to a group of sales professionals about what motivates me and I told them this story. I didn’t tell them this to tug on the heart strings. I told them so they knew that even at 46 years of age, what I do is grab any opportunity by the throat and do everything in my power to succeed. I figure that’s the least I owe my Grandfather and anything less would feel like I would have let him down.

The questions I now ask you is this:

Do you know what motivates you? Are you doing what you want to do? Are you prepared to fail in your efforts to succeed?

-DH

The Tale Of A Legacy Lost: A Scanning Story

Is it important to digitise the past to enjoy in the future?

I remember when my Grandfather passed away, many years ago now, the comments made by his three sons, one daughter and many extended family were that this was the start of a legacy lost.

Nothing could have highlighted this more when, years later, my Grandmother also passed away and there was a clean-up of belongings with many trips to the skip to dispose of unwanted, unnecessary or ‘low value’ items.

A legacy saved…

One trip saw six or so Bibles in different sizes, shapes, versions and condition about to be tossed but stopped just in time. Known for being fairly sentimental, they made their way to me where I was fortunate to discover inscriptions from my Grandfathers parents where they had handwritten thoughts, words of encouragement and endearing messages to him at milestones in his life.

Some of these milestone moments include times forgotten by those around him and range from -just prior to getting married to my Grandmother; prior to his period on the Gold Dredge in Eldorado, Country Victoria, because of hard economic times and just prior to his departure to Papua New Guinea where he fought for our country.

Those inscriptions taught me more about my Grandfather than any stories others have told me.

A legacy lost…

With mixed emotions, I recently heard a similar story from a business we have done past work for. The files we saw and scanned (digitised) where AMAZING and I have never seen anything like them before. These files were old and many predated WWII and included handwritten letters, typed letters and (for those who remember) telegram slips, just to mention a few.

These files were presented back to the customer after much care with all originals returned for quality assurance assessment.

Once the quality was confirmed by the customer, the original files were destroyed by the business.

We also learned of the ingestion of the remaining hard copy files by the company directly – which is a great strategy should it align with your business goals.

However, in this case the files were:

·        Scanned and destroyed without any QA.

·        Scanned by volunteers and juniors with no experience in business.

·        Scanned in-house to minimise the expense.

The result was a fast turnaround time, using juniors keeping the costs down, and meeting the above listed expectations.

The sad part of the story was when, some weeks later, some critical information was required and the file was opened only to reveal nothing, an empty file! No hard copies (already destroyed), no electronic copies and a heap of finger pointing.

 

This was a massive loss of legacy and now information relating to important people will never be readable.

 

The reason I thought I would tell this story is simply to highlight the importance of due diligence with electronic document management systems. Even people close to my grandfather nearly, and unbeknownst to them, destroyed important information. They didn’t mean to – but they nearly did.

Whatever your role, engage experts to help you understand the legacy of loss and its potential impact.

-David Harrison

 

 

Recognised as a Business Solutions Expert, Sales Management Consultant and CRM Specialist. A ‘future’ enthusiast with a love for innovation, I am always looking for easier, better and more efficient ways to solve problems.

As founder and CEO of The Essential Group, I have helped thousands of business navigate the ever changing landscape of business and I enjoy mentoring tomorrow’s brightest entrepreneurs.