The basic elements of great customer service are, in fact, useful both inside and outside of one’s business. Let me share with you these basics and they can also apply to your non-work life.
Don’t Build It If You Can’t Support When They Come
You’ve heard the phrase “build it and they will come,” right? I say, don’t build it if you can’t provide the service that those who come are seeking.
A great example of over-extension is the small business owner who offers a great deal on Groupon, only to be overwhelmed by the response and unable to fulfill orders. Know your abilities. Don’t let a lack of self-awareness reveal your weaknesses. Whether we’re talking about parent-child relationships or friendships, don’t promise the world when you can’t deliver.
Find A Good Outcome If Needed
Sometimes you simply can’t fulfill an order to a customer’s exact specifications. That doesn’t mean you should give up. Instead, provide sensible alternatives in a timely manner. If, you can’t provide a requested product or service, offer something you can provide that has value to the customer. The goal is to find a workable solution for your paying customer. Many customers will accept the fact you can’t fulfill their original request when you offer an alternative positive outcome. Likewise, as a manager, try to find a solution when an employee comes to you seeking help with a delicate situation. Seems logical, but how many times have we seen these scenarios end badly?
Don’t Be Afraid To Communicate
When a local florist wasn’t able to provide a specified vase, then failed to deliver a Valentine’s Day order last week, the lack of flowers on my girlfriend’s office desk wasn’t the biggest problem.
The failure to alert me to a problem was a far greater issue. I would have been inclined to cut the florist some slack had they proactively warned me of a problem. The lack of communication leads to an erosion of trust. Especially when upon learning the specified vase was out of stock, I would’ve been happy to negotiate a solution. The same holds true if you’re working with others on any sort of project. Don’t withhold negative information that prevents the task from being completed. Think big picture and long-term.
The Wrap Up
The business community would have a better reputation if it made a stronger committment to providing good customer service. That said, I have tried to illustrate that the principles behind good service stretch far beyond business. I offered a handful of examples above and I’m eager for you to add to the list below.