I have clients who buy me Christmas presents, wedding gifts (when I was getting married), call me for advice on products and events outside my control, and want to know what I and my company are working on to see if they will need it. Why? Why would clients buy me things? Why would they call me when they are looking to make a large software purchase from a company we don’t compete or partner with? Because my clients aren’t really clients to me, their people whom I have formed relationships with. Client, according to Merriam-Webster is, “a person who engages the professional advice or services of another.” That means when you go to a gas station and fill-up your tank you are their client. How connected are you to that gas station? If you reduce people to just someone you have to service because they pay you, or your company, you are missing out, both personally and professionally.
Here are some examples of recent customer service experiences in my life:
BBVA Compass: We had been banking with Compass for about a year, and wanted to use our “points.” We had none! When we signed-up for our bank accounts, and chose “double reward points” as a perk on the account, we were not enrolled to actually be credited any points. The lady who signed us up for our accounts failed to tell us that we had to go home and sign-up on-line on the rewards site, not the regular site (which is all we did at the bank). I complained on the phone, no response; I complained in person, no response; I complained on Twitter, got a response!?! It took about two weeks, and then the customer service rep informed me that they would credit me points for the last six months on our personal checking account (I also had a business account there). Another week of complaining, informing them that we now planned on changing to a different bank; we finally got all the points we were supposed to.
Chick-fil-A: I had ordered and was waiting for our food, standing near the cash register. A lady walked up and motioned to the lady who took my order, and motioned to her indicating an issue with the food. The Chick-fil-A employee walked over and at this point it became apparent that she (the customer) was deaf and did not speak. There was a problem with her sandwich, so the employee printed off some blank receipt paper and handed it, with a pen, to the deaf lady. She wrote something down and handed it back to the employee. Another employee who I saw was working in the drive-thru area walked over and started asking customers if they needed refills. She filled a couple of cups and then asked the deaf lady, not knowing she was deaf. The deaf lady nodded her head and handed the second employee her cup. The employee asked her what she had been drinking, PROBLEM. The deaf customer motioned with her hand and looked frustrated with the situation. The second employee then started to use sign language. Cool. The deaf lady lit-up and began signing back. They had a conversation, she got a refill, got her corrected food, and left (by all appearances) happy.
Macy’s: I bought Karah a robe for Christmas, but I bought the wrong size. I had purchased it on sale, but had misplaced the receipt. Luckily at Macy’s you don’t need a receipt if you have the card you purchased with and the tags are still on it (even if it was marked down). We waited in line at the register. When we got to the desk we explained the situation and that we just wanted to exchange the robe for a different size. I told the lady I thought I got it 15% off (because that was the store-wide sale going on the day I bought it). But when she rang it up it was a different price, I was fine with that, we wanted to exchange, not return. But she was being rude and condescending about me being wrong about the purchase price. She wasn’t processing the return, instead she stood there trying to convince me that I didn’t buy the item on the date that I thought I had. We ended-up just grabbing the robe and going to a different register to perform the exchange.
I feel that I did not receive much attention at Compass because of the size of client I am, pretty small. It wasn’t until I contact them via Twitter that I got help, and this is because they have recently started their social media initiative and want to see how it can be used, the customer service rep was dedicated to proving its usefulness. At Chick-fil-A the customer who needed assistance was getting help, the employee was doing what she could to help, and then another employee was able to please the customer even more. The point being that both employees were helping to their greatest potential. And at Macy’s, it is just bad to be treated like you don’t know anything, especially when you’re not trying to prove a point! I didn’t care what date I bought it, I didn’t care how much I had paid, I just wanted to exchange the robe. Treat your customers as intelligent people.
When I do customer service I don’t think about a reward, my desire is to serve the customer to the utmost of my ability. I encourage everyone to provide quality customer service. I have closed sales because when tech support comes up at a TractBuilder presentation I tell them that when they have a problem they call me and I will fix it, and I stick to my word. I was at a conference recently where a client of an ex-employer of mine spent a few minutes telling me how highly they thought of me, how much they wished I was still there, because I “have yet to be replaced, even though they have a new person in your position;” that made me feel good, I get a lot of joy with people being happy with me. So when you help people be friendly, be helpful, and try to connect with them, not for the purpose of a sale, but for the purpose of connecting.