Customer service: the act of taking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service and assistance before, during, and after the customer’s requirements are met.
I don’t know about you, but I have grown weary with companies that believe that the mere providing of a product or service is their end game. The what gets done but, unfortunately, it overshadows the why and how of the service.
For the last several weeks, I have been working with a service provider that got me to switch over to their company, only to find out that after switching, my costs would be higher than anticipated.
This after having written communication about their price and pricing structure. No matter that I had written verification by the sales associate of an agree-upon price. No matter that communication from them had been less than stellar. No matter that they admitted the error. I am still paying more than we agreed upon.
After walking through this, there were four key takeaways that I believe have value and I want to share with you. Though a frustrating experience, my interaction with this service provider did remind me of some valuable lessons in leadership and the climate that I create in my own setting. We need to be on the watch for these.
They made service difficult
I wanted to partner with this company and get a better product for less than I had been paying. But the truth was that my experience felt like I was trudging through thick mud instead of skating on ice.
It was a lot of work and a lot of personal time for something that ended up not being much of a net gain for me and my family. Too many vendors sell the same type of product. Service differentiates. I want to stand out in my service by making a lot of work seem effortless and communicating that I will shoulder what has been agreed upon so that I can meet a need in a life.
They got so focused on policy that the experience was a net loss
Bottom line, I am moving on at some point to another provider who strives to offer pleasurable experiences in service.
In every situation in which I serve, I have to remember that there is a cost for someone going elsewhere. In my own situation, this provider will retain a small amount of money by not honoring their commitment, but they end up with a net loss because of my moving on. I will not be a longterm customer.
As effective leaders, do not be shortsighted in being content with winning a battle – you may end up losing the war. Hear out your customer, whether they are consumers, church members, or students. Humility always wins the day. And remember, your policies should guide both thought and action and not be used as a weapon to beat your customers with.
They turned the issue into a “we” instead of owning their mistake
As a customer, I do not mind mistakes being made with regard to service – that happens at times. My issue was in hearing “There was probably some miscommunication on your side and some on our side and that is why the problem happened.”
Translated…”by all parties having blame, we are not obligated to fix the problem.” And that is where things were left. As leaders and providers of service, you are more likely to retain a customer in the long term when mistakes are owned and corrected. No questions asked. No pointing the finger. Just own it and fix it.
I get it – it is difficult to own up. But as I have realized as a leader and influencer, God truly does notice the one who is humble. In fact, He takes special note (Isaiah 66:2). And my experiences in the past have taught me that when mistakes are made and I show humility and am quick to take action, more often than not there is more loyalty from the individual than if the mistake had never happened in the first place.
They reminded me that without people you have nothing to serve
There is not much to elaborate on here. We serve…people. And it does not matter what type of service you provide. Without people, your product does not matter. I must remember at all times that my endeavor with others is that my interaction produces a sweet aroma of the Gospel as specified in 2 Corinthians 2:15.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3-4)
What are some other cautions that arise when people are not the center of our service? What do you think?