Monday, January 4, 2010

Customer Service 101

Click on the title of this post for an awesome link for more funny customer service cartoons :)

This blog post applies not only to wedding planning, but also to life in general.  Listen up:

My daughter was born in June 2009.  Ever since then I have been not good about consistently exercising.  Not for weight loss purposes, but mainly to stay healthy and energetic.  I have decided that I want to diversify my work out routine to include yoga, spinning, running, walking, elliptical machine, stretching, get the picture.  So I called a local gym that offers spinning classes and asked about packages.  They are currently offering a 6 class pass for $49.  What if I want to purchase more than 6 classes?  Would they offer me a 20 class package for $150 or less?  Other gyms around the area offer packages along the lines of 20 spins for $130 - would they match the price or be willing to work with me?  The teenage girl at the desk had no clue.  She took down my name and number and told me a manager would call me back.  GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE:  he called me later that day and left a message.  BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE:  when I called him back at the number he called me from he said "uh, this is my cell phone and I'm not at work.  I'll call you when I'm back there later today."  That was December 30th around 4pm and I still haven't heard back from him.

I know, I know, it's the New Year (Happy 2010 everybody!!!!!) and I should be patient.  However, I am a firm believer in not just good, but AWESOME customer service.  If he didn't want me to call him back on his cell he shouldn't have called me from that number and left it as the call back number on my voice mail.  He also should have called me back by now.  Some lessons in customer service:

It is one of my biggest pet peeves when customers who are upset say that you not only lost their business, but also the business of everyone they know (this has not happened in the event planning, just at a salon I used to manage years ago).  In a time of disappointment it is easy to get carried away and make yourself seem more important than you really are.  Reality check:  you and your friends are probably not solely going to put anyone out of business.  However, as a customer I can certainly help a business by bringing friends and relatives to enjoy it with me.  For example, maybe I would bring Kate to spin with me or any one of my friends.  That may not result in long term profit boosts, but any little bit and exposure helps - especially in this day and age.

"You get what you pay for" is so cliche, but so true.  When your business resides on customer interaction it is essential that your staff knows how to treat a customer, and how to think on their feet if a problem arises.  Clearly the guy at the gym is not paid in a manner that makes my phone call or business worth it for him to pursue.  You cannot pay someone $8/hour and expect them to understand how to maximize the profit within your business or to work with that in the forefront of their mind. 

I have thought about becoming a customer service consultant, specifically in the salon and spa business.  There are so many lost profits in not maximizing staff time and in-store referrals. Anyone want to hire me? ;) Again, it's all about having a staff that has a passion for what they do, is willing and able to learn new tools, and view their customers as more than dollar signs.

A smile can go a long way.  No one wants to do business with somebody who is constantly complaining and negative.  Be energetic, make sure your staff is enthusiastic too.  Sure, we all have bad days, and it's okay to talk about it, however every time you meet with a client it shouldn't be "woe to me this, woe to me that."  In fact, it should hardly be about you at all!  Ask about your client, what do they do, what are their favorite colors, have they seen any good movies lately, been on any vacations recently? 

Maybe it's the perfectionist in me, but I just love when I can put a smile on someone's face and when they know I am looking out for their best interest.

What can you do to improve your customer service TODAY?

1 comment:

BlissBook said...

I loved this and I think I may have needed this...Excellent points, I enjoyed your post very much.