I am going deviate a bit from the general theme of this blog to talk about something that I have a lot of experience with. I work in customer service for a living and have dealt with every type of customer imaginable. I have worked in call centers since my eldest was 5 days old, so more than 10 years. I have worked retail customer service and in the food services as well. There is no shortage of customers as I personally speak to and deal with close to 1,000 customers a month in my work. Customer service is the cornerstone of a service based economy which we live in now. Customer service is in my mind the single most important aspect of any business and vital to that businesses success. Without a good customer service team business can’t effectively compete in the economy.
Before we get 2 much into your responsibilities as a customer I want to just briefly touch on my responsibility as a customer service agent. I make an effort to approach every customer interaction with what I have come to regard as the Guest standard of service.
G: Greet your customer warmly and prepared to help and assist in what ever way they request.
U: Understand what the customer is asking of you and the customer situation
E: Explain what options are available and explain solutions or current services, billing ect to the customer to ensure their understanding of what they are paying for
S: Suggest options for the customer that may be of benefit to them. Don’t oversell them or undersell them. Make sure you are selling the package or product that is the right fit for your customer. A consultative approach rather than a transactional approach
T: Thank your customer for their business and time. This is important as everyone times is valuable and that customer took time out of their day to patronize your business. That customer is the reason you have a job. Try to remember that on every interaction.
My job as a customer service rep is to provide you the customer with an exceptional customer experience, one that you can walk away from feeling good about the decisions you have made after your interaction with me. What it comes down to Is I know how to do my job and I do it well more often than not.
As a customer however you have a responsibility to those who are providing you with said service. There are also things that as a customer you need to be willing to accept and must understand. Your attitude in contacting any customer service rep no matter the industry will have a direct impact on the experience you have with that interaction. If you come into an interaction looking for a fight and in a generally pissy and angry mood you will likely find what you are looking for and It won’t be because of how that customer service rep treated you. Your attitude can be infections and directly impact how that interaction plays out. When you start out on the attack the customer service rep you are talking to will likely respond on the defensive immediately escalating the situation further. We are human after all. We will always strive to be polite and professional but that does not mean we will be 100% effective when viciously slandered and attacked.
I have been called all kinds of viscous and derogatory names, been accused of being racist, sexist, bigot, hater and having a personal vendetta against people I did not even know existed before talking to them. My wife and children have been insulted and threatened. Members of my family have been viciously slandered with extremely derogatory and salacious insults and attacks all over a perceived intent to anger the customer. This type of behavior and attitude will not get you anywhere and makes it much more likely to not get what you want. If you approach customer service in this manner the interaction will not go well for you or the person you are dealing with in the end no one is happy.
As a customer you need to be prepared to communicate effectively what it is you want from that company you are contacting. When you ask a question like “what kind of plans do you have” you can expect a response something like “what is it you are looking for today” continuing to respond with just tell me what plans you have does not help either of you. When you communicate effectively what product or service plan you are interested in the customer service agent can then recommend plans and products that are relevant to you. Most companies have many different options to choose from based on different product and service needs . I can start to go over every options available but that information really becomes meaningless unless tailored to your needs. You can’t expect us to just know what you want, you need to tell us. For example telling me you just want cable TV does not tell me what channels you want to watch. Would you walk into a grocery store and say “what kind of food do you have?” and expect the store employee to fill you cart with the food you like to eat?
As and example of this, I recently spoke with a customer who stated “tell me what kind of plans you have” I had asked what this customer was looking for with regards to service as there are multiple different plans and service levels available depending on needs of the customer. This customer just continued to say “just tell me what kind of plans you have”. Eventually this customer said whatever the cheapest plan is. They did not sound like they really knew what they wanted. When I offered a full bundle for TV, phone and internet this customer responded in frustration and stated “I do not have a TV”. Some thing that they did not tell me before hand, but had I known and had this customer told me then I would have been able to cater the product offering more effectively.
As a customer you have a responsibility to read you bills. This is not that difficult of a task. your bills do more than just communicating how much you are asked to pay that month but are the primary means of communication between you the customer and the company you are doing business with. On your bills will be important information beyond what you are paying for and the services received. You will be notified on your monthly bill of changes to your plan, services, rates, terms and conditions of service, new product offerings, promotions offers your may be eligible for, promotional discount end dates …. the list could go on and on.
The most common calls I get are along these lines “no one told me that I need to give 30 days to cancel”, or “no one told me that was a promotion and it would expire”, here is another one “why is my bill so high” which customers will express before reading the bill, they will often look at the total without reading the details and the first thing they do is pick up the phone and call, will spend 20 minutes on the phone having the bill explained to them then say they don’t have time to read the bill so how were they suppose to know. It takes about 2 minutes to read a bill and more often than not when I read through the bill with the customer they agree to the charges and pay the bill happily.
As for other things like “no one told me that” when pointed out that we gave that information on every bill since the service started customers will often though sometimes reluctantly accept that they were informed. If you fail to read your bill the company is not liable for you not being informed about your services. You have been informed and you are responsible for your bill and reading the information on it. By reading your bill you will be aware of what you are paying for and your rates for service will not be a surprise.
As a customer you have a responsibility to pay your bill. I cannot emphasize this enough. It is sad that it even has to be mentioned. When you call in to customer service and yell and scream and the customer service agent because you services are not working when you have not paid your bill in 3 months it is not your service provider that is at fault. It is yours. Period. There is really not much more to say about that. Whatever your reasons as good and sound as they may be, your bill went unpaid, you lost service. You do not have a right to service, you have responsibility to pay for said service.
As a customer you have a responsibility to be accountable to your service. To be accountable you are responsibility for being knowledgeable about your service and the other options available to you. You cannot hold a customer service rep or company accountable if you choose to remain ignorant of the products and services you pay for. It is your responsible to ask question, and research the service and product you are interested in and want to pay for. Yelling at a customer service rep because no one called you to tell you about this or that unfairly place the blame on that person when you won’t take the time to be aware of the services available. Change is a constant in the service industry and you will not get a phone call for every change that happens. Do your research, learn what is available and how changed will affect your services. That is your responsibility.
As a customer you are responsible to be respectful of the people you are talking to in customer service. Yelling. screaming and insulting the one you are talking to will not help you resolve your issues. You catch more flies with honey as the saying goes. It is OK to be upset, however it is not OK to be rude, obnoxious, arrogant, disrespectful, insulting and degrading to the one who is only trying to help you. You may not get the answer you want but that is no excuse for being disrespectful.
As a customer you need to accept that sometimes you will get an answer you don’t like, or perhaps what you are asking for is not an available option. Be reasonable in your request. Demanding 100 in credit for a service that cost 50/month that was out for 2 days is not reasonable, just as an example. You need to understand that the company you are dealing with is a business and not a charity, they are going to charge you for service. Credits will be applied where due in most cases and in reasonable amounts, credit for time not having service is reasonable even if not a large amount. Often with the company I work for more credit will be given than is due ie 1 week for a 2 day outage, this is more than reasonable and it is generous.
Understand that promotions are not there as a loyalty offer. They are there to attract new business. They are not available on demand. If you are unhappy with what you are paying then you cannot expect to simply get a lower rate for the same service just because you don’t want to pay the price you are being charged. Like most things in life if you pay less you get less. If you cannot see the value in what you are receiving then you need to ask yourself if you are willing to live without. To often people think they cannot live without and tell me that they are “forced” to pay more than the service is worth to them.
Don’t be blinded by the competition they are not really cheaper, They are offering a promo rate and in the end you will be paying the same rates for same level of service. The overall pricing structure between companies is really not that different no matter who you go to. It’s called market rate. You really need to look at the value of what you are getting and whether the product or service meets your needs. Don’t be a promo shopper, Find the right fit. It may not be company a or b or c, but find the right fit and stick with it. If you are unwilling to pay market rate for a product or service then maybe you should not have that product or service with any company. Don’t buy a product or service and spend your time complaining about how expensive it is. Don’t buy it! problem solved. If you treat your customer service reps right and with respect they will treat you with respect as well.
The most important thing to remember is that just because you cannot get what you want, when you want, how you want and for how much you want that does not mean that you have received bad customer service!! I cannot emphasize that enough!!
So please remember that Good customer service is not so much in whether you demands are met but how the problems and concerns are addressed both in tone and manner. If the company you deal with now cannot provide you with the service or product you want, then you can look elsewhere, we won’t be offended.
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