Leadership

Service and support: Get the fundamentals right

MSN Money has published the results of their annual customer service survey. What's the biggest takeaway that techs can use? Don't blow the basics.

MSN Money has published the results of their annual customer service survey. What’s the biggest takeaway that techs can use? Don’t blow the basics.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Looking over the list that MSN Money has published of the worst performing companies in a recent customer service survey is pretty interesting. One thing that immediately jumps out is that 4 of the 10 lowest-rated businesses are financial institutions or banks.

This is probably the worst possible time for consumers to be surveyed about their feelings toward companies like Citibank and Bank of America. Even when the economy is doing well, these corporations are so large that a percentage of their customers are going to be unhappy. But the banks’ performance in MSN’s survey is indicative of a significant consumer backlash against the institutions, due to their responsibility for the current recession in the eyes of the public. Why is consumer response so negative? One reason is proposed in MSN’s accompanying article, and I tend to agree:

"Banks are there to manage our money and do that reasonably well, and many of them haven't," the University of Michigan's Fornell said. "So they haven't even done the basics…”

The surest way to disappoint a customer is by not delivering on what you promise. Support pros may not be able to fix each and every problem that comes along, but by remembering your customer service fundamentals, you can keep your clients from considering you negligent.

Be polite and professional. Duh. Seems obvious, but people screw this one up all the time. Be clear and concise. Explain the problem and your proposed solution as simply as possible. Avoiding jargon will help make the customer comfortable. Set reasonable expectations. This avoids disappointment later, and customers will appreciate having a clear understanding of the likely outcomes of their situation. If you can’t deliver the moon, don’t promise it. Stick to your commitments. If it’s at all possible, and even at if it’s at your own cost, deliver on your agreement. If you’ve set reasonable expectations, they should be easy to fulfill, but if your estimate has gone awry, the customer shouldn’t have to suffer for your miscalculation.

Do you have any more customer service fundamentals to offer? Share them with us in the comments.

8 comments
jljtech
jljtech

Simple concepts yet extremely effective in customer service scenarios.

paul.simmons
paul.simmons

My identity was stollen for a credit card transaction to Dell, the credit card was from rhymes with Face Bank and they did not process the report but only wanted to sell me Identity Theft insurance. Dell was also hard to contact. Hey be there, do the basic job. This happens a lot for consumer call lines. The anti-virus companies are terrible for contacting for account service also. You can pay and have them say you owe the the next day and every day thereafter.

williamjones
williamjones

My post for this week was inspired by an article I read listing this year's worst customer service performers. The biggest reason most of these companies landed on this list? They didn't deliver on their promises to customers. How do you keep your customers happy? Or, if they're not happy, how do you keep them from blaming you for what went wrong?

rjcirtwell
rjcirtwell

I've been a service guy since '82. First telephone and now computers in 2 banks. I've told every one of my "customers" (end users) that they are NOT bothering me. In fact if they don't call me then I have no job. It really is that simple.

user support
user support

I am saying this all the time, you are my customer and without your problems, I don't have a job. I have a white board and I usually write when I am out of the office but I think I should start writing open for business.

adakar_sg
adakar_sg

My firm had some promises that we were not able too keep, so we ended up saying "Hey, we screwed up.. you will get everything for free!" Keeping the client, loosing alot of money but reputation intact

Rhodent
Rhodent

That's the motto in Israel. And it works. Everything is monopolized, people would lie that they were happy with the service they got to save face - complaining is a sign of weakness, it's a middle-eastern thing - and large corporations and chains of stores behave like bullies with good political connections. I bought a defective Microsoft Keyboard a while ago, was ridiculed by customer service, was offered another defected one as replacement, the 'BBB' has no teeth, etc. etc. Just my local perspective : )

Editor's Picks