hornbeck

thoughts on business, community and customer service

Archive for the ‘customer service’ Category

Answering the Phone

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In my previous post I mentioned the 50 things your customers wish you knew and number 5 from that list jumped right out at me, “A friendly voice on the other side of the phone means more than you can imagine.”

Your customers normally don’t call you just to chat and catch up on how you are doing. They normally call when something is wrong or if they need specific information that they can’t find elsewhere. This means that there is a pretty good chance that they are going to be in a bad mood or at least on the verge and it won’t take much to push them over the edge. So how do you prepare for this and make sure that your staff will be prepared to turn the situation around and leave the customer feeling satisfied?

The first thing is to make sure that the people you have answering the phone are prepared for answering
the customers questions and empowered to do what they need in order to make that customer happy. There is nothing that will turn an already upset customer into your worst enemy than your staff not knowing the answers to questions. I’m not saying that your staff will always have the answers or that it’s even possible for them too but they should at least have the knowledge of knowing where to look or where to ask in order to find the answer for the customer. The other part of that is your staff actually being able to give the customer an answer or make the situation right without having to ask their manager if something is ok. Empowering an employee to make decisions on their own is a win for everyone.

The second thing is to only allow employees to answer the phones if they are in a good mood and thinking clearly. You may ask how you would know if someone was in a good mood and thinking clearly? Most of the time you can tell if someone is not in a good mood or distracted. Another way is to ask your staff to let you know when they are feeling this way or have everyone share their mood during a morning stand-up. If you have people answering the phone and not able to make your customer feel at ease and show that they are willing to listen to the customers problem, you are setting yourself up to provide a bad customer experience.

If you ask your employees to do this and to share their moods then you need to also make sure that it’s something that doesn’t become a way for your employees to get out of dealing with customers. If an employee consistently tells you that they are unable to answer the phone, you will need to address the situation. A bad mood every now and then is fine or if they are going through a life issue that causes them to not think clearly, but what you don’t want is an employee thinking that they can use this as a crutch in order to get out of talking to customers.

The last big thing that you can do to make sure that it’s a friendly voice on the other end of the line for your customers is to make sure that the culture in your company breeds happiness and that your employees are having a good time doing what they do. The easiest way to make your customer happy with your product is to show that you are happy with your product and love working with it. I will have more posts in the future that deal with how to maintain a happy culture at work and ways to keep your employees wanting to provide the best customer service that they can.

At the end of the day your main goal is to make sure that you have happy and friendly people answering the phone when a customer calls in. If you cannot provide this for the customer then all you are really doing is setting yourself and the customer up for failure.

Written by hornbeck

April 26, 2010 at 4:56 am

Posted in customer service

50 things your customers wish you knew

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I’ve recently started following the search term “customer service” on twitter and found a nice article on “50 things your customers wish you knew” from the Remarkable Communication blog. This list of 50 things is a great start but I think in some cases it’s worth diving into what I think a few of the 50 things mean and how to accomplish them in your company. My first post will be over number 5, “A friendly voice on the other side of the phone means more than you can imagine.”

Written by hornbeck

April 26, 2010 at 3:04 am

Posted in customer service

How do you find time for social media?

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Michael Hyatt posed a question on his blog today asking

How do you find time for social media? What does your typical social media day look like?

I figured that instead of leaving a comment on his post, I would explain how I use different social sites throughout the day in order to do my job and keep up with the industry.

I make time for social media sites everyday because it’s how I communicate with the outside world. I telecommute for work and work with a community that is spread throughout the world. If I did not use social media sites I would not be able to keep up on current trends and business news. These sites also allow me to better connect with clients and community members that are using the open source version of our software.

The main site that I use is Twitter, it’s normally the first thing I check in the morning when I wake up. I check twitter first because it can give me the heart beat of what’s going on and I can see if any big news or announcements have happened while I was sleeping. After checking the status of the people that I follow, I check my saved searches from Twitter search. I use Twitter search to track topics that I’m interested in such as the product that I work on and I track the other players in the nosql community. This lets me see what trends and articles people are looking at. I will comment on tweets or retweet things that I would like my followers to read as well.

All of the tweets that I post also go into Facebook. While this is looked down upon by some, I find it useful because I have different people following me on each service and I normally want to share the same information with them. I do check into Facebook from my phone throughout the day and will comment on posts there as well or respond to people who comment on my posts.

For blogs and saved searches from sites like Stack Overflow I used Google Reader. I keep a tab with reader open all day and read items as I have free time. I will “like”, “share” and “comment” on articles within reader and click through to the actual article if I want to leave a comment for the writer of the blog to read.

Overall I spend 1-2 hours a day using social media sites and feel that it’s time well spent because it allows me to communicate with the community involved with what I’m doing.

Written by hornbeck

April 23, 2010 at 8:40 pm