Unless you are lucky enough to have a personal shopper who handles all of the nitty and gritty parts of your shopping experience, you will come into contact with customer service at some point in the proceedings. Usually, I would say that it goes smoothly for most of us, but every once in a while, there is a snag in the proceedings and we rely on customer service to get us through the transaction peacefully. Today I’m chatting about what makes for good customer service, and what we can do to help everything along as the customer!
What is Good Customer Service?
While the definition of “good customer service” varies from person to person, I think that we can all agree that are a few elements that are common to all of us. I’ve recently had a few excellent instances of customer service that I think are my new standard. On the weekend I was making an order with Old Navy; I normally don’t order from there as their bottoms don’t fit me well but they have a few things I was very interested in. The coupon code was only working on one of the items and not the other (which wasn’t in any of the excluded groups). I decided to give their customer service line a call, and their agent manually fixed the price as soon as I put the order through and gave me free, faster shipping. I placed the order on Saturday around 4:30pm and had the items by noon on Wednesday!
1) We want to feel that we are being heard. Often when we have to speak to someone about an issue, we want to know that they are listening to what we are actually saying and processing it, not just running on autopilot and. The agent from Old Navy repeated back to me what I said, and then he continued an open conversation about the situation. He went through the product exclusions and confirmed that it should have been included. It felt like an actual conversation, and although it was a job for him, he was engaged and actually listening. It went a long way in the situation!
2) We want a related solution. I find that oftentimes customer service agents will offer you an entirely unrelated “solution” to the issue; ie. a free pair of socks when your order of shoes gets lost and takes three weeks to arrive. This differs from person to person but overall, I think that most of us would like something related. Free expedited shipping, or the ability to cancel the order (as many orders are time sensitive) would go a long way to keeping my faith in a company rather than a random item or discount code that works in a week. The proper discount fixed and free shipping was a relevant end to the situation, and I didn’t end up with random items for free that I didn’t want anyways.
3) We want a fair resolution. As someone who has worked in retail, this is not true across the board, but I think that a majority of us would like to see a fair resolution. If I have made a $400 order, I do not expect it to be completely refunded while I keep the merchandise because it’s a few days late (though many people will ask for it). I would like my position recognised without someone’s job being in danger, because outrageous demands and heinous complaints can cost a retail worker their job. By offering me free, quick shipping, it was more than fair! It was within his power to offer it, and it turned a frustrating situation around.
What is a Good Customer?
Being a good customer is as important, if not most important, in the arena of customer service. If you have no loyalty with a company, you can’t expect to receive top of the line service- there’s no history to show that they should go far above and beyond. If you are lucky like me, you will receive it, but one or two random orders doesn’t owe you anything above the normal service.
1) Be polite and friendly. Pardon my French, but no one wants to deal with an asshole. Be rude, condescending, arrogant, loud, or generally irritating, you can expect for people to be the same in return. Go above and beyond as a customer so that agents will want to go above and beyond for you. If you go into the situation with positive expectations and a willingness to work with them, you aren’t starting it off on a negative foot.
2) Do your research ahead of time. Before you call or go into a store, make sure that you have all of the information that you need. If you are using a coupon code online, go over the details and exclusions two or three times to make sure that you understand the parametres. When you look at items on a website, make sure that the item absolutely does not fall into the excluded categories- check the item details and any fine print. If you are following up on an order, have the order receipt in front of with and any other information you might need, like billing and shipping info. They will need proof; have it ready to go!
3) Be realistic. You aren’t going to receive your item for free, or for 50% off, in the large majority of all cases. None of us are so worthwhile as customers that someone is going to risk their job security to offer that, so be a realistic customer. I worked at a bookstore and people would often expect 50% or more off for a mass market paperback ($9.99 CAD) for a slightly bent corner. If I try to enter that discount into the system, I would automatically have been flagged. That’s it, that’s all, end of story. And I was asked weekly, sometimes daily. It usually resulted in zero discount because the customer showed zero regard for my job and was largely out of touch with the situation. Be a realistic customer and set realistic expectations!
What does excellent customer service look like to you?