Good Customer Service

Not so long ago I spent 4 years working for the late Tim Bacon the founder of Living Ventures a group of restaurants and bars including Gusto and the Living Room. I learnt a great deal, his Core Manual is one of his greatest legacies almost biblical!

In it Tim teaches you how to give excellent customer service and at the root of his teaching is that the customer is always right. Many people couldn’t understand why a degree educated person would want to work in a restaurant with the long unsociable hours and relatively low pay. I never explained to customers that I was a Business Development Manager and that there was much more going on behind the scenes, they just viewed me as a host (well what’s in a name?). Those 4 years taught me so much about providing good service, dealing with difficult customers (sometimes drunk) as well as creating a welcoming environment. A fellow hospitality worker once said that ‘hospitality should be made a national service’. I really couldn’t agree more.

Unfortunately, this has made my expectations very high and I find it quite frustrating when I don’t receive the same good customer service from other business to consumer enterprises it’s not hard to get it right just put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re dealing with and ask yourself what would you expect? In many other countries i.e. America hospitality is viewed as a career whereas over here many view it as a stop gap.

If I have to call a business and get good customer service I’m actually amazed. Almost shocked if I get through directly to the person I need to speak to. Lansinoh are one such business I needed some replacement valves for my breast pump the lady who answered the call was able to deal with my query straightaway without having to pass me to another department. It made me think it doesn’t matter what communication method you use as long as you do it well. I recently had to speak to a large business who provide a wide range of electrical items let’s just say their name began with Sam and ended in ung. I was appalled by how poor their customer service was. Firstly, the line was very poor so it was difficult to hear them, they took me through their troubleshooting (basically) switch it off and on. When this didn’t resolve the issue they put me on hold for roughly 15 minutes until eventually my call was dropped. I called back only to have to go through the same process again and once again was put on hold for a further 10 minutes whilst the individual reviewed my notes. Finally, they deducted that my equipment (a sound bar) was faulty. I had called about the same issue a year ago and was made to feel quite foolish because my husband had removed the battery (I hadn’t checked before I called). On this occasion I was transferred to the supervisor who asked me over and over again if my problem was resolved, even though they knew it wasn’t.

As a parent you’re told to ‘praise good behaviour and ignore bad behaviour’ (not entirely sure which guru came up with this theory). I don’t agree with this theory. I do agree with praising good behaviour something I do loud and proud however, but bad behaviour should also be acknowledged. We shouldn’t insult the intelligence of our children by assuming they can’t understand right from wrong and this is why they should be punished. In the world of consumerism people don’t follow this rule (I’m as guilty as the next person). Giving feedback to a company is the only way to help them improve. Posting a negative review can be very damaging for a small businesses. So back to the electronics company there is an email address on their site where you can directly contact the CEO of the company surely he would care about the poor customer service I received? But I’ve received no response as of yet. I also tweeted their official twitter handle yet again no response.

You can be sympathetic to small companies not having the resource to be across all communication channels but a global business should be able to provide brilliant customer service. I am a big Gin fan and for Christmas I received a beautifully packaged bottle of Gin from the Gin Parlour with complementary bottles of tonic and beer matts it was a real treat. On their website they state in their FAQs

“WHY DON’T YOU HAVE A TELEPHONE NUMBER?

We are a small, 2.5 person, online company. We made the decision not to have a public phone number and instead embrace the various online methods of communication - email, live chat, Twitter and Facebook - because these enable us to provide a better, more reliable, level of customer service. We could put a phone number up but 9 times out of 10 you would have to leave a message for us to get back in touch with you. In our experience that frustrates people even more.

We know that some people see a phone number as a sign of a company’s validity and will not want to shop with us however we have been independently verified by our website security certificate provider and our independent review provider.”

This is a prime example of smart communications, you don’t need to be across every method of communication to give good customer service just pick a few and ensure you do them well.

kiesha@iconmarketingcommunications.co.uk 01625 533102

Credit: Jonathan Farber

Credit: Jonathan Farber