Customer service

One of our suppliers offers this expression to customers: “If satisfied please tell others, if not tell us.”

It’s pretty important for businesses to gauge customer satisfaction at all times. The cornerstone of most businesses is customer retention. The best way to be successful is to look after people.

Some of the larger stores have implemented no hassle returns as a way to appease customers. This isn’t as easy for some smaller retailers who instead prefer to help in the initial purchase to try and ensure customer satisfaction with the right product or service for the application.

From time to time we do receive letters on the topic of poor service or a poor experience with a business. Since we can’t really interview both sides and dedicate the space to such complaints, we do not accept these types of letters.

We do however recommend speaking to the owner or manager to see if an issue can be resolved. Often a poor experience leads to unwanted publicity as one friend tells another and so on.

Many businesses guide their activities by the philosophy that the “customer is always right”.

When a customer service issue rears its head, successful businesses will try to discuss what is fair and go from there. We would hazard to guess most business owners, if given the opportunity to retain business, would make arrangements to offset a bad experience.

On the rare occasion, a customer simply cannot be satisfied. Many of us have seen these incidents while waiting in line as a raging customer berates a junior employee. Once a manager appears the attitude often changes a bit and people get a little more reasonable.

While talking about this with one of our salespeople, the idea came up about on-line reviews and comparisons for businesses.

Admittedly, we look at reviews and see what other people thought about a book, product, service or hotel. In the back of our mind, the question lingers as to who is making the comment and what is their motivation. Perhaps a competitor, a disgruntled employee or a customer with a champagne taste on a beer budget comes to mind.

So we wouldn’t advise making decisions strictly on the advice of an unknown, but it gives a flavour of what to expect.

Oddly, reputation management on-line is a recent phenomenon some businesses find themselves employing to counteract negative digital tidbits. While not one to engage in conspiracy theories, we have to wonder if those posting negative nonsense have a vested interest in helping clean up the mess later.

This is perhaps one of the downfalls of internet-based marketing where it is so easy to make claims against a person or business with little recourse. Lawmakers haven’t quite caught up with the web and libel laws.

One letter writer this week mentions another foible in the field of customer service and that is the interaction of government workers with people. Like the customer chastising a junior staffer, there are those who seek out service at the township office itching for a scrap.

It is a senseless approach and really unnecessary. Its reminiscent of the old joke where the flashy upstart new to town goes in looking for road repairs and demanding service, compared with the old farmer who approaches it with an “aw shucks” attitude and hopes that the roads crew can get by when there is time. The farmer asking for some help gets looked after long before the big shot making demands.

Customer service is a tenet most businesses hold dear. If given a chance most will step up to keep a customer happy.