Thursday, November 11, 2010

Customer Service

I have been thinking about customer service a lot lately and how often we expect one thing when we are the customer, but when we are the one serving a lot of times we'll give another. I know that I've been guilty of this. However, I wonder if we should change are expectations sometimes of what to expect as a customer also we might change our expectations as the server as well.

Most of what I'm talking about as a customer and as a server isn't going to take place on the every day level that you are probably thinking about. I'm not talking about being able to find a Wal-Mart associate when you are searching for that pillowcase that that you can't find. If we're honest with ourselves, that will never happen and that should be an expectation. I'm not even talking about wanting your sweet tea filled up at your favorite restaurant, but your waiter decided to go help someone else. What I am talking about is getting customer service from an expert. This can be an electrician, a plumber, or most often for what I'm thinking about a business to business situation.

Sometimes giving customer service means telling your customer how it is. That old saying that goes "the customer is always right" isn't always true. For example, if I go into my mechanic and tell him I need to you fix my transmission and he doesn't tell me that it isn't my transmission that is the problem, but rather my shocks, I'd be pretty upset with him. Not only would I waste money getting a transmission fixed, but I'd also still have to have my shocks fixed. Same thing goes in business.

Many times it is best to find out what the customer wants and give it to them, but not ask their opinion on how you get there. Even Wal-Mart does this. What do Wal-Mart customers want? They want cheap prices. Plain and simple. Wal-Mart gives them cheap prices, but skimps on other areas in order to do so. Even though I complain about Wal-Mart all the time, I still go back to them. On a business to business scale it works the same way. For instance if a customer asks for a widget, give them a widget. But sometimes they'll want to get more involved and try to explain how to make the widget to you. This is when, like the mechanic, I think it is best to remind them that you are the expert widget maker and you know how to do that. What they need to be worried about is what to do with the widget once it gets to them.

So what is customer service? I would define it as giving the customer what they want, but only if what they want is actually what they need. In other words, don't give them a new transmission when they need new shocks.

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