Customer Service is SO Annoying (Tips to Make it Less So)
Don’t get me wrong, this post is really about great customer service. There will be tips, too.
But first, a quick update to my readers: In late 2019, after 20 years, I gave up my marketing consulting practice. I was done, burnt out, sick of dealing with C-levels and, most importantly, making them a fortune while having them torture me on my hourly rate and time usage; chase them for payments; challenge my analyses, recommendations and decisions; listen to them ramble; etc.
Interesting. As I wrote in the above paragraph, I realized how much I hate doing my own customer service. Ironic!
So, what does a good marketing consultant do?
I put my money where my mouth was and started an e-commerce company. I had a buddy with a growing Amazon.com business looking to expand, so I joined up as a partner.
Introducing Premo Guard. We make natural, nontoxic bed bug, mite, lice, and flea killers. In the two years since launch, we've grown by triple digits each year. From now on my column will be dedicated to what I've learned as an e-commerce business owner. I have a ton of great insights to share!
OK, On to the Customer Service Story and Tips ...
So, now I manage the marketing and customer service side of the business. And since we're still considered “small,” I handle a good bit of the customer service myself.
For years, I would tell clients that “superior customers service in a social media world can make or break a company.” I was right. And now I live or die that motto every day. And it ain’t easy!
This morning I woke up to three emails from a customer wanting to know when her order would arrive. Why do they even ask that when they get like 200 automated notifications every step of the way? But I digress. She started a live chat with us, but in 30 seconds disconnected while I was responding to her. And finally, she called twice. Both times it went straight to our voicemail (this is a problem we're about to address).
I have a customer who calls me so much she calls me her boyfriend. Since I work at home, and my wife is always lurking, she actually has a good laugh at this.
I have another customer (well, a bunch of them actually) who cannot distinguish between calling a company where people actually work for a living and having a personalized concierge to discuss things with.
Lastly (but certainly not all of my “complaints”), do people even try to spell and use proper grammar anymore? I spend way too much time trying to decipher what customers mean in emails, texts, chats, etc.
It’s a bit much, but, and this is key … this is why we're in business.
We help customers deal with bug infestations: bed bugs, mites, fleas, lice, and they're desperate, getting bitten up, not sleeping and generally miserable. And they want to tell you every detail of their lives and how the bugs are affecting them.
Keeping calm and carrying on, some tips for super customer service include the following:
- First off, my most important tip for you is this: customers complain. You and your staff may hate it, but as I've railed about many times before, an unhappy customer is your next customer advocate waiting to happen.
- While the customer is NOT always right, treat them like they are. Or ... the risk of getting badmouthed in reviews both on your website and elsewhere is greater than the need to be right about your customer’s mistake.
- Half of issues customers have with your product are “operator error.” If they aren’t using it right, they will say it doesn't work or fit or whatever. Your job is to help that customer with their poor user experience and fix their self-made problem.
- Satisfy your customers at all costs. Otherwise your risk of getting skewered on social media is too great. I read a sales book by a person named Joe Girard a million years ago (back in the pre-social media stone age). He had a law called the rule of 250. If you treat a customer poorly, or don’t solve their problem, they will tell people and eventually 250 people will hear about it via word-of-mouth.
- Rule of 25010: In the social media age, multiply Girard’s rule of 250 by the power of 10.
- Customer service is everywhere and takes place everywhere. From your call center to email, to chats, to Facebook, to Twitter and on and on, monitor everywhere for people trying to talk to your brand about its product or service.
- If you get an email, text, chat message, tweet, etc., respond immediately or as soon as humanly possible. The longer it takes for someone on your staff to respond, the harder it is to solve the customer's problem.
- Even great customer service cannot make up for terrible products. (Speaks for itself, doesn’t it?)
- What's your guarantee? Offer people the best possible guarantee you can. Live by it or else!
- Final recommendations: Get out into your call center. Monitor. Talk to your reps … what are your customers' pain points you can address. What are your reps' pain points you need to address to make their jobs better? Do the same with your social media pages. Look around.
- Set up Google Alerts for your brand, your products, etc.
- Search for reviews of your products and company frequently. You might be surprised at what you find that you can both learn from and help your company prosper.
Lastly, when it comes to customer service, even if I hate doing it, I always refer to this quote from the ever-so-wise Peter Drucker: "There's only one valid definition of business purpose — to create a customer. Companies are not in business to make things … but to make customers."
To me, these are words to live by.
Related story: Apple iOS 15 and Privacy Issues: Why I'm Not Worried
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.