The Four Categories of Customer Service

I have found over the years that customer service usually falls into one of the following four categories:

  1. Poor, rude or simply no-interest to help.
  2. Robotic, rote, reading from a manual “help.”
  3. Over-the-top and insincere “help.”
  4. Sincere, caring, and expert help – invaluable!

Let’s look at examples of each:

#1 – You have those that tell the customer, “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do…” or transfer you to another who would only tell you the same. This is a sign of “no interest.” The person represents the company, but really doesn’t care whether they treat you well or not. These personnel show up for work to collect a paycheck each week and lose your business at the same time.

This person will usually respond to a customer’s question, “I don’t know, sir.” Well, okay, who does know? Have they offered to transfer you to someone who does? Not usually; they simply want to end the phone conversation as quickly as possibly. They usually move on to the next customer in the same manner leaving each with a very poor image of the company and have not truly helped you.

#2 – is the robotic type. The customer service representative has been given a patter and told not to deviate from it. When you call with a question, they do answer you, but reading from a page. I have found this too often when calls are transferred to foreign countries for help. What’s wrong with this approach? You are treated like a number, another caller to whom they must give the same response each time.

Then ask a question for which there is no answer in the manual, BOY IS THIS IS A FRUSTRATING PROBLEM! You next ask for a supervisor or manager and are instantly told there’s not one available. AAAAAAAAAAH! Is it wrong to have a patter and know it well? No, of course not. But if your employee has not practiced it to the point of truly knowing how to fully handle the queries of each customer, then he shouldn’t being using it. You will again lose your customers.

#3 – is the over-the-top, syrupy-sweet person which can produce a gag reflex. This brings to mind one particular vendor my company used in the past. Our employee went to their offices on several occasions, and though they knew her by name, they treated her with only a pretense of care – completely insincere, overly kind and impersonal. Do they know the name of our company? Do they know what we do? I bet they really had no idea. They were so hungry for business they “sucked-up” to my employee each time, but in a way that she found false and irritating. Each time an order was placed their standard service action was to call back an additional three to four times to make sure the service was okay. That is over-the-top and ultimately a waste of my employees’ time.

#4 – This is worth knowing cold and practicing until all employees can fully understand it! You work hard to know your long-term clients by name, you know things about them and their lives, you ask how their family is; if you don’t know the answer to their question or are caught off-guard, you promptly assure them that you WILL help them resolve their specific situation and then do everything you can to do this in a timely manner. If you must call them again, you give them additional information and an ETA for full resolution – “I will get that answered for you and call you back by tomorrow at the latest.” AND YOU DO SO. This shows your customer you genuinely care and are committed to servicing them. If you have a front desk person/receptionist, they must have sufficient knowledge of the company, who to properly send such a call to, remain bubbly and alive, warmly welcoming each customer, whether on the phone or through the doors.

The truth is… your business would not exist long without your customers, so each one of them should be considered gold and should be treated honestly, promptly and with great respect.

Any company can spend thousands or even millions on promotion, and work a very long time to attain the best reputation and the best prices, etc., but if your customer service is not what it should be, you will most definitely lose your customers! If you do not service them well as in #4 above, they will seek to find someone who will. It’s a fact.

When you lose a customer, it is usually multiplied by five minimum, as bad word of mouth will surely lose you several more! The next time you yourself call a customer service representative ask yourself, “How well was I treated? Did they fully resolve my issue or question? Was I treated as a valued customer honestly and respectfully? Would you recommend them to a family member or associate?” Now you’re taking the perspective of your own customers, and honestly, if you can keep this in mind and ensure your employees do the same you will have a vast, happy client base.