Great Customer Service

Most of the time, we hear about bad customer service. This is because companies don’t put a big enough emphasis on proper training and procedures in their sales and customer support (also because people are more likely to complain about the bad than acknowledge the good)

When I decided to start this blog, one of the things I wanted to do was make it as easy as possible for people to read the posts. This meant posting to the blog, setting up a RSS feed and also allowing people to receive the posts via email. In choosing the email function, I wanted some features that would require more time to program than was worth doing myself so went ahead and signed up for the service from Aweber.

While the system itself is easy to use, prior to signing up online, I decided to give them a call to ask one question. My reasoning for doing this was to make sure that if I did have difficulties in the future, there would be an easy way to contact this company. Whether it’s via email, a help desk or a phone number, I typically will do this prior to making a purchase online. When I called the 800 number listed on aweber.com, I had the option of entering the extension of the person I wanted to contact, or I could push 1 for sales or 2 for customer support. I pushed 1 and within 10 seconds, I was on the phone with a well spoken, polite, knowledgeable person who was able to answer my questions quite easily. Too often, a company makes it difficult to contact them and when you finally do get in contact with someone, it’s someone who seems more intent on not providing information than providing information.

Since the service they were providing is what I was looking for, and since I was impressed with their sales person, I went ahead and placed the order.

One day after I ordered their service, my phone rang and it was a person from aweber. He was calling to see if I had any questions about their service and if there was any way he could help me. At no point did he try to up sell me to a more costly service or anything like that. While this is a recurring service, there was no mention of extending a contract or anything like that. Instead, they went with the approach of being helpful.

Three days later, I received a letter in the mail from aweber. Besides thanking me for being a new customer, it provided all of their support contact information. Again, there was no sales pitch involved in this letter.

The point of this post isn’t to recommend aweber.com (although if you are looking for a way to send email newsletters or automatic follow ups, I would recommend them) but rather to make you think about your organizations sales and customer support. Keep in mind, everyone is a sales person (if you aren’t selling goods or service you are selling your organization or yourself). Do you make it difficult for people to contact you? (in my case, I hate the phone so I prefer everything be done via email). Do you respond to emails in a timely manner? Do you follow up after the sale?

Too often, organizations spend all their time (and money) generating new business and they forget about the value of their current clientèle. Providing good customer service will encourage your current clients to remain with you, which usually is as valuable, if not more valuable, then the new clients you are trying to attract. Plus, good customer service will result in good word of mouth advertising which while free to the organization, can also be invaluable.

It’s a good idea to regularly check your organizations customer support. This could mean checking to make sure there is a way to contact you on a web site. It could mean calling the number you are giving out to make sure the phone line is working properly and if so, the phone is being answered properly. It could mean sending an email from a different account to make sure the email account is working properly. It’s amazing how checking on a small thing like the way email is working or the way a phone is answered can make such a big impact on an organization.

If you have any good (or bad) examples of customer service, please feel free to share them in the comments section at http://lawrencefine.com/blog

Have a great day!

Lawrence
PS If you know anyone else who might find this blog of interest, please share the URL with them

Management using a soccer refs thought process

Around a month ago, I was speaking with Mike McCarthy (Associate Dean of the Marshall University Medical School) and he was talking about a problem he dealt with recently involving some personnel.

Mike explained how he uses the same logic at work as he does on a soccer field as a referee. As much as I hate to admit it, this made a great deal of sense (I hate acknowledging Mike is ever correct).

In a soccer game, if the ref feels a player is a bit out of control, his first step is to go over and give the player a verbal warning. The idea is to speak with the player calmly, explain that the behavior exhibited is not acceptable and to diffuse the situation. If, after this verbal warning is given, the player continues with this inappropriate behavior, the next step is the yellow card. The yellow card is the official written warning letting the player know this is unacceptable and there is now a record of this behavior in case this happens again. If, after the yellow card is given, the player modifies their behavior and doesn’t cause any more problems, everything is fine. If, after the yellow card is given, the player continues to misbehave, the next step is the red card, which means automatic dismissal (and subsequent penalties of missing the next game as well, at a minimum).

In business, if we used this same type of process, things would run much smoother. Too often, a problem happens, the management isn’t sure how to handle it so they do nothing. Because nothing is done a small problem becomes a big problem and everything blows up. Instead, a simple verbal warning could make a big difference. If that doesn’t work, following up with a written warning (that stays in their permanent files) will let the employee know this is now serious and will be dealt with severely, if it continues to occur. Then, if this inappropriate behavior does continue, dismissal is the next step.

If management and employees know the process that will be followed, there will be no surprises.

Following the simple process of verbal warning, written warning and then dismissal will help stop a lot of problems before they occur and when they do occur, will allow everyone to know the process to follow

I could have asked Mike to write this for me but anyone who knows him knows he would write this much more eloquently than me,but it would also involve 100’s of pages and none of us have that kind of time!

Have a great day!

Lawrence

Welcome to the Lawrence Fine Blog

Welcome to the Lawrence Fine Blog. I wish I could explain exactly what this blog will be about but that would require having a true plan.

Some of the things that will be covered include Motivation, Time Management, Success, Leadership, Customer Service and much, much more.

Some postings might be irreverent, some might even be irrelavant but I think most people will find them informative.

Those who know me will realize that you might see the occasional spelling mistake, grammar ‘issue’ or other minor problem but they will also know I write as I speak and that is what you get.

Rather than having to come back to the blog to see when it’s updated, you can subscribe to the email newsletter, which is simply each article as they are written. You wont see any comments that are made but the general posts will be sent via email as well.

I can be contacted via email using the form at http://lawrencefine.com/contact.php if you have any questions.

As always, have a great day!

Lawrence