Last week, I dealt with a phone company, an insurance provider, and a doctor’s office. My experiences with all of the above ranged from great to maddening. This lack of consistency in service is what inspired this post and in honor of Customer Service Week, I thought I’d share some of my ideas (and maybe some constructive criticism) about serving those who keep your business, well, in business.

The Phone Company: I started off my week looking for a car charger. In fact, I entered the wireless provider’s store with the intention of buying one since my phone was dead and I really should have one in my car. I wasn’t looking for anything else; just a car charger. When I walked into the store, the salesperson walked over and greeted me with a friendly tone and asked if I needed anything. I told him about my search for a charger, I showed him my phone, and he apologized. Yes, the first words out of his mouth were “I’m sorry.” He apologized because they didn’t have the right charger in stock but would have it later on in the week. Oh well, but since I was there already, why not ask about my contract? I wasn’t quite sure of my contract end date and I was actually looking to switch carriers based on cost, not on service. He quickly pulled up my info and gave me a straight answer. There was no tiptoeing, no pushy sales tactics. He gave me the answers I needed and for that I was thankful.

The Take Away: Say you’re sorry. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to turn what was going to be a sucky customer service experience into a really good one. I appreciated that the guy was honest with me and that he apologized for my inconvenience. That attention to my needs as a customer really stood out. Also, I liked the way that he gave me straight answers about my contract. He didn’t try to sell me anything and he didn’t push and shove. Just gave me the info I needed and let me be on my way. Sometimes, being short, sweet, and to the point is all the customer wants.

The Insurance Provider: Oh my. My blood boils just thinking about it. My ordeal with the insurance company was just beyond awful. If there’s a company that needs to give customer service training to its employees, it’s this one. My issue with the insurance company arose when I called to inquire about a problem I was having with my prescription coverage. When I finally got someone to take my call, I was not greeted with a friendly tone. The representative sounded annoyed that I had called. Strike one. Then, as I explained my problem and asked for help, I got silence. Yes, silence. And it wasn’t golden. Despite what I was telling the service representative about my issue, he refused to listen. He actually said, “No, that’s not how it works” when I was describing something that had actually happened. To boot, the insurance company’s records were incorrect, he tried to get me to enroll in something I didn’t want, and it took forever to even find out what was going on.  I had described my issue and he essentially said, “Well, that’s not our problem.” Oh my. Then I lost my temper. I’ll admit, I got a little snippy, but I was really put into a bad position here. I hung up without a resolution. Then I called back after I cooled down and got a representative who was much better and explained what I needed to do.

The Takeaway: Silence is not golden. There’s nothing worse than being silent when a customer is asking you for help. Do not ignore them and definitely do what you can to make it right, even if it’s just listening to the problem and then providing what answers you can. Effective communication (and good listening skills) are key. Also, be sure that you’re being accurate and that your answers are defensible. It makes all the difference. Let the customer know what’s going on and be helpful. Remember, it’s your job to provide service so don’t treat every call like an inconvenience.

The Doctor’s Office: After Prescription Fiasco 2010, I had to call my doctor to get a new scrip. So, I called her office first thing in the morning and got helped quickly by the receptionist. She ran through my record, told me that the prescription note would be ready as soon as I needed it, and then gave me options for receiving it. She could mail it or I could stop to pick it up, whichever worked best for me. When I went to pick it up, I was greeted by a nurse who actually is good friends with my cousin. We chatted, she told me to call back if there were any problems, and got me out the door quickly…and with what I came for.

The Takeaway: I loved the fact that the nurse took the time to make me feel comfortable. She introduced herself and asked if I was related to someone. I said I was, and then we connected over her friendship with my family member. That personalized attention is what will keep me coming back to that doctor’s office forever. I love when I get treated like a person. Also, I appreciated the responsiveness. They recognized I had a problem and worked with me to solve it. Simple as that.

Those were my experiences and some takeaways that any company can learn from. I didn’t use names because it doesn’t matter who the company was. All businesses in all industries should examine their customer service when someone voices discontent or praise. See what you’re doing right (or wrong) and always look to improve. I can tell you from experience that good customer service goes a long way and bad customer service…well…that just makes you lose another customer.

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2 Responses

  1. Great Mandy – This gets posted right to the NEPA Customer Service Consortium Facebook Fan Page and ning community site =). I hope to see you on Friday at SC to celebrate Customer Service Week!

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