I gotta tell ya I have way too many personal examples of poor customer service! I imagine we all do. Considering how often companies get the customer service thing wrong, it leads me to believe that either front line staff are unhappy, processes are inefficient or ineffective, or they are not hiring for the right competencies.
To balance the scales, I have also experienced awesome customer service. One such time was for IT support. I know—such a rare occurrence! So rare, in fact, that I asked the owner if I could interview him to see how he got it so right.
I spoke with Sam Arseneau, CEO of SupportMyMac about customer service. I asked Sam what customer service meant to him, “Wowing the customer every time. Living and breathing wowing-the-customer- every-time in everything you do. A five star experience. Being prompt, quick response time, being adaptable, and having empathy for the client.” That is exactly how I felt every time I dealt with them.
Some times poor customer service is a result of the front line person being unhappy, either because they don’t like the job or because they don’t feel supported by management. One way that front line staff doesn’t feel supported by management is the promoting of “the customer is always right” concept.
We all know this is not true—don’t tell anyone, but as a customer, I have been wrong…once. According to Sam Arseneau, CEO of SupportMyMac, he feels the same way; the customer is not always right. “… some times you have to stand by your word, beliefs, and company values. I don’t always agree [with the client] but am ready to meet in the middle and make it work. That is why they come to you—they need advice.”
Management needs to have their employee’s back if the customer is incorrect or is being rude. Train employees that customer service is about really understanding where the customer is coming from. To me this means listening to understand my client’s needs, identifying how I can help my client meet their needs, helping them to understand what their unknown needs may be, and working to meet those needs. My customers may not know if they are right or not—that’s why they come to see me. The result? My clients return with more business and referrals.
One recent experience I had with a company I won’t name [a well-known water heater rental company], have processes that either weren’t followed, are ineffective, or inefficient. The front line people I dealt with listened and seemed to understand my needs, but the next steps were not carried out—I didn’t get the response I needed. I placed several calls requesting service and after speaking with a Manager I finally got a call back and service was scheduled for the next day. However, the technicians that showed up weren’t the right ones for the problem—another process issue. They offered to upgrade the water heater and their quote was more than $400. In the meantime, their competitor quoted a new water heater with free installation, three months free and a less monthly cost. Not one person called to follow up with me. After over 10 years, they lost my business.
Let’s go back to Sam and SupportMyMac. The customer service experience is about ‘the way you greet them, check their computer, verbalize expectations, provide constant updates, let them know what is going on, inform them whether things are going on or not. This is what we are doing—worst case/best case. Being prompt, response time, being adaptable, empathy for the client. Make it easy for them from booking to cancelling to rescheduling and to paying the invoice.’ Now that is a Wow experience.
Lastly, is making sure you hire the right person for the job. Being competent at customer service is so much more than that—it is listening, understanding and responding; problem solving; relationship building; desire to learn; knowing the organization and its processes. You have to assess all these skills.
What does Sam look for when hiring? Understanding of the apple environment, technical point of view; fit-with the company culture, talk like us, live and breathe apple products, young spirited, communication, honesty, realizing you don’t know everything and willing to learn, trainable, and someone who can follow instructions.
HR is a great resource for helping you get your customer service right: understanding the job, making sure the work flows properly from one person to another, making sure you have the right person in the right job at the right time, onboarding, training, and managing performance. You don’t have to know everything, just hire the people who do.
I like Sam and SupportMyMac—they have a loyal client in Caerus HR Consulting. I hope you like Sam too because our next newsletter/blog will be more about hiring the right people—Sam had lots to say about that too.
Make sure you are providing the best possible customer service to your clients, because if you don’t, someone else will.
Sam Arseneau provides consulting support and training services to companies that realize they should be hiring an expert rather than try to solve their IT problems on their own. Sam’s clients vary from consultants to companies with over 400 employees from government departments to medical clinics. SupportMyMac also provides help desk services to companies with no internal IT person. ‘People recognize our value and they appreciate us,’ Sam said. Sam provides exceptional customer service—I know from experience, I was “wowed” and that is how he stands up to the competition.