The lighter side of customer service
Customer service is a serious business – do it right and it delivers increased sales and customer satisfaction. Do it wrong and it can destroy a brand in the eyes of customers. However there is definitely a lighter side to the profession, as the Top 20 Funniest Customer Service stories of 2012 shows. Collected by Henley Business School for CDC Software and appearing in mycustomer.com they demonstrate the lighter side of customer service.
From the supermarket customer that complained that their bill was too low due to additional discounts being applied, to the farm holidaymaker who complained about the noise of cows ruining his stay there are some great stories here. My personal favourite is the utility customer who rang to complain that customer service was too good, and that money should be reallocated from staff training to reducing energy bills.
Looking beyond the headlines all 20 stories demonstrate five fundamental points that customer service departments need to bear in mind:
- The customer is always right. While the customer might have very much got the wrong end of the stick, sometimes it is easier to appease them if that does not add to costs
- Listen. Some complaints sound ludicrous but are there ways that you can change your processes to make sure no-one else has the same issue or problem?
- Keep customers informed. Give them the information they need to make a decision in a clear, straightforward manner. Then it will be obvious that if you stay on a dairy farm you are quite likely to be awoken by cows!
- Build empathy with the customer. Every customer is an individual – make sure you take the time to understand their story before trying to resolve their complaint
- Have a sense of humour. However when a customer is deadly serious about their complaint it is best not to dissolve into laughter while on the phone. Take a deep breath and, as much as possible, adopt a professional manner.
Given the growth of the customer service profession over the last decade the top 20 stories from the research must be just the tip of the iceberg – feel free to add your own as comments below.