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IT'S NOT WHAT YOU SAY...OR TYPE THAT MATTERS

I recently called several utilities in order to confirm an address change as we prepare to move in a few weeks. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences, calling your local cable provider or electric company in order to make changes.

What I found most interesting about these exchanges was that there were three factors influencing my decision as to whether I stay with the carrier or cancel my service and move to their competition.

Most interestingly, none of these factors had anything to do with the quality of their service.

This doesn’t excuse poor service in any way, of course, but in contacting my “supplier” of sorts, my willingness to remain on hold for extended periods of time, practice patience as the customer service representative asked for information I’d already provided, and generally avoid sounding as if I was annoyed resulted from three specific factors I experienced during the interaction:

  1. How quickly my call was answered.
  1. The tone of voice used by the individual answering my call.
  1. How quickly I was able to leave the call with my questions answered (and no additional work for me)

These same three factors came into play when I was using a chat service, and of course when engaging in an email exchange.

Reflecting on this a bit I realized that virtually all of my clients have customer facing roles (sales, marketing, customer service, shipping, accounting) that interact with customers over the phone, via chat, or through email, and that these same factors are critical to each role, regardless of the intention as to why they might be calling a customer.

So if I was to turn this around for a moment, I would ask you:

How quickly are your customer facing roles answering or returning customer (existing and new) inquiries?

Are your employees who deal with customers aware of how to best speak to a customer? The tone of voice, practicing patience, and smiling while they speak?

Are you aware of how long your employees take to deal with customers when they are interacting? Do they know that it’s okay to respond to an unusual question with “That’s a great question! I’d like to look into this further and get back to you before the end of today, what’s the best number to reach you at?”

In today’s fast-paced world, there is nothing more important than cherishing your customers’ time, and by practicing and improving in each of the three areas above you are sure to set yourself (and your business) apart from your competition.

Call it the, “How we say it,” competitive advantage.

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