No matter what business you are in, you are in the customer service business. Without customers, your business wouldn’t exist. If you’re thinking that just because you don’t work in retail or ever have any contact with a customer you shouldn’t have to worry about customer service, you’re making a big mistake.
Whether you’re the traffic engineer who synchronizes the traffic signals, an inventor creating the next video gizmo, or the clerk who rings up the sales at the hardware store, you all have customer service concerns.
For the traffic engineer, his goal may be to keep traffic flowing but without an emphasis on the customer, in this case the individual drivers, he will fail miserably. The initial intersection may get cleared however, if next intersection stops the drivers, the traffic will back up again, moving the gridlock elsewhere. Instead, if he puts himself in the position of the customer, he’d see that by synchronizing the lights, not only would it make it easier to get through town, the traffic would flow better. By synchronizing the lights with the customer’s needs in mind, he can accomplish his goal of smooth traffic flow as well as get the driver through a series of intersections efficiently.
An inventor who understands the end-user’s needs will create a better product. For example, let’s say this gizmo is designed to make it easier for senior citizens to download movies onto their TVs. If the buttons are small with tiny text, his customers, the senior citizens will reject it because of their failing eyesight.
The clerk at the hardware store is the typical example of what many people think customer service is. This clerk is the main point of contact for many customers. So what about the guy who hired the clerk? Is he involved in customer service? You bet. Human resources managers have customers too, internal customers. They must meet the needs of the various department heads that need to fill positions. If they don’t listen to their requirements and place an employee that’s inappropriate for the position, their customer, the department head, won’t be pleased.
This could also trickle down to the customer purchasing his hardware. For example, let’s say the clerk hired by human resources lacks basic math skills. When the customer buys his new hammer, he pays in cash and gets short-changed. Not only did the clerk fail, the human resources manager did too for hiring an unqualified candidate.
In addition, the human resources manager’s customer is the job applicant. Perhaps this particular clerk would be better suited in the garden department where he can answer questions about what plants are best for the climate. Did the human resources manager overlook the applicant’s past nursery experience in order to fill an immediate opening?
Why should you care about customer service? Companies that have an emphasis on customer service enjoy repeat business. Considering what it costs to attract new customers, a little effort pays off big dividends in keeping the existing ones.
Customer service doesn’t have to be complicated either. Smile, listen, care. Give your employees the go-ahead and tools to help solve customer problems. Get rid of obstacles that make it hard for employees to help.
One of the best ways to spot potential customer problems is to pretend you are a customer at your own establishment. For example, if you own a boutique that caters to new moms, enter the store with a stroller or a big diaper bag on your shoulder. Can you navigate the aisles or are your displays jam-packed to the point where your target customer can’t get around?
If you manage a fast-food restaurant, place an order at your own drive-through. Is the speaker box blocking the menu board so you can’t see all the items available?
If you work in the human resources department, fill out your own paperwork. Are your applications easy to read? Is there plenty of room to fill in the required information? Are you asking for redundant or irrelevant information?
Customer service matters. It’s the best approach to just about any job and it never goes out of style.