Last week I made two calls within 5 minutes. The first call was to the company I use every year, and the second to the company I will be using from now on. The reason for the switch is a good reminder to make sure our company’s systems don’t get in the way of basic […]
Last week I made two calls within 5 minutes. The first call was to the company I use every year, and the second to the company I will be using from now on. The reason for the switch is a good reminder to make sure our company’s systems don’t get in the way of basic customer service.
Every year we have our home heating and air conditioning unit serviced by the same company. They’re a large outfit with multiple locations throughout Oregon. Their customer service is average. But their phone number is stenciled onto the control unit, so it’s easy to just look at the wall and make the call. This year the company’s internal systems got in the way.
I called and was told the person who schedules home service is out to lunch (literally, not metaphorically) but will be back in about an hour or so. I was given two options: leave a message on her voice mail or call back in 90 minutes. She sheepishly informed me that it is their policy to have separate people schedule commercial and residential jobs. They might have a very good reason for this. But, as a customer who just wants to have my air conditioning working, it would be just as easy for me to dial a competitor’s number as it is to dial theirs again. Admittedly, I was already becoming dissatisfied with the customer service at the first company and this was the thing that finally solidified my decision to make a change.
This company wanted my business.
I called another company that was happy to schedule a service for the next morning. Two days later they ended up replacing my entire heating/air system. Not allowing the commercial scheduler to book a residential job cost the first company thousands of dollars and many years of my continued business. The service tech from the new company was able to sell me a new system, accept payment, and schedule the install crew all from my driveway.
Check your policies and processes.
How many processes in your company make sense internally, but create a small hurdle for your customers? Think about your experiences as a customer of other businesses. How many times have you been frustrated or simply gave up because of a process that makes life easier for the company, but makes things more difficult for you, the customer?
- Do you really like hearing, “And please listen carefully as some options have changed?” Do your customers like to use your automated phone system?
- Do you like it when you buy a bagel at the counter and the touch screen payment system automatically displays “TIP: 10% 15% 20%” while the cashier stares at you? Does your bakery do this to your customers? How many people hesitate to pick up a pastry and coffee because of this?
- Do your customers have to “create an account” before they can purchase something from your website?
- Can your customers easily learn your pricing online or by phone? Or do they have to provide you with information first?
- Does your Employee of the Month or management really need the best spots in the parking lot? Or would those be better left available for customers?
Look at Customer Service through the eyes of the customer.
What are the obstacles you have put in the way of your customers in the name of efficiency? We get so buried in the daily operations of our companies, we sometimes forget to view our processes through the eyes of a customer. Remember, as soon as a potential customer picks up the phone or clicks on our website, they are wanting to do business with us. We should make that as easy as possible.