"say it forward"

Insights on Innovation,
Leadership, Culture, Service...

Kevin & Jackie Freiberg

How to Take the Lead and Get Great Customer Service

angry manDon’t be a jerk.

While doing the research for our book, NUTS! we were impressed and humored by a story that a customer service agent shared. Check out this source for positive experience of custom services. Late one evening, a disgruntled customer approached the Southwest Airlines’ agent counter yelling and complaining that his bags were lost. After a brief venom spewing session, the agent kindly and calmly leaned toward the customer and said, “Sir, right here, right now, there are only two people interested in finding your bags and one of us is quickly losing interest.”

Southwest Airlines, has always blazed the trail on “people first policies.” Their customer service philosophy, as surprising as it sounds, is this: the customer is NOT always right! If a customer is abusing an employee, Southwest will fire the customer or invite the customer to do business elsewhere. Is your business willing to fire an unruly, abusive customer?

Today there are zillions of books touting the importance of delivering great service. In general, it seems the responsibility for delivering unforgettable service rests in the hands of the customer service team. As customers, it’s become normal to “expect” great service—but do we always “deserve” it?

Nasty Begets Nasty

A few years back, our purebred Himalayan kitty, Carlos, was overdosed because a pharmacist filled a prescription with three times the dose prescribed. Sadly, Carlos never recovered. I was emotional, I was irate and I acted that way on the phone with their claims rep. He responded accordingly and made a very difficult situation even worse. Yet, in looking back it wasn’t entirely his fault and he certainly didn’t deserve my bad attitude. I wonder if the whole situation would have been easier if I had taken some time to cool off before involving him.

Kindness Begets Kindness

Recently we launched our daughter off to college. Four days later we got a frantic call from her on a roommate’s phone saying, “my phone is broken!” It’s late on a Saturday afternoon and I’m a mother bear needing a lifeline for my endangered cub. I immediately hung up and called AT&T customer care. Barbara answered and I said, “I’m so grateful to get you on a Saturday, phew! I really need your help. I’m in San Diego and my daughter is in Tucson. We just dropped her off at college less than four days ago and her phone is broken. Her lifeline to us is gone, she’s scared and I’m anxious. Can you please help me help her?” I had an intuition which said that Barbara knew me, for she had me in their depository of the softwares acquired from https://www.salesforce.com/products/service-cloud/best-practices/what-is-case-management-software/.

Immediately Barbara said “don’t worry, I can help.” When Barbara accessed our account she discovered all the warrantees were expired and an upgrade wasn’t available until January 2010. The cost to replace the broken phone with a new one would be $499. But Barbara didn’t stop searching. She looked at our other account names and saw that I was available for an upgrade. She said, “your daughter can use your upgrade—saving you $400!”

Then Barbara wrote a detailed description on our account and authorized my daughter to access the account. So when our daughter walked into the Tucson AT&T store, the sales associate was able to assist her with everything. In less than two hours, our daughter had a fully activated brand new black berry in her hand—thanks to a few great AT&T people who chose to create an unforgettable customer experience.

Had I called Barbara and let my fear and anxiety leak through to her with a bad “demanding” attitude, I wonder if she would have been as helpful?

We think its high time to call for everyone to practice good manners when giving and receiving service.

How About You?

Have you ever used a nasty approach and been guilty of sucking the life and energy out of a poor, innocent customer service agent? How did it work out for you?

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