6 Cheap Tips For Better Customer Service

Friendly Service
Photo cred: Lilly Tran

Last week I asked the question, “Are All Customers Equal?”.  Many of the responses mentioned the issue of allocating limited resources, and explained the cost advantage of providing better service to better/more influential customers.

If you want to see my responses, just read through the comments.  I thought it might be helpful to share some “little things” that you can use to provide better customer service without spending much money.  Remember that in any first interaction with someone, it’s often the little things that count and stick out.

1. Don’t get mad at people for wanting help.

Nothing drives a customer more crazy than talking to a rude customer service rep who doesn’t want to talk to you.  Guess what, the customer doesn’t want to be talking to you either.  The fact that they’re talking to you means something went wrong with your product.  Be kind and respectful, unless you’re disrespected.

2. Say “Thank You” when the customer you’re helping is friendly and respectful.

This happened to me once with Microsoft (X Box).  My 360 had fallin ill with the “ring of death” and I needed a new one.  I called a rep, put in my order for a free replacement, and everything went smoothly.

At the end of the conversation, before we said goodbye, he said, “I just want to thank you for being so respectful and friendly to me”.  It really stuck with me.  I actually felt good after hanging up the phone with a customer service rep.

3. Check up on your customer once in a while.

Just drop a quick message that says “Hey, how can we help?” and don’t ask for anything in return.  Show that you want your customers to be happy.  Do this enough, you might be able to gain some control over the flow of customer service requests, and allocate resources accordingly.

It could be a mass email if you don’t want to spend the time but don’t message them too often as you don’t want to spam them.

4. Take away the hoops.

Don’t make it hard for customers to get in touch with you.  If you don’t have a rep available, let them leave their number and call them back.  Again…let them know that you care about them.  Trust me, there is a strong correlation between the amount of time a customer spends waiting on the phone and the patience they have when you finally pick up.

5. If you find out there’s an issue with your product, don’t wait for the the complaint…just apologize.

I was having lunch with my girlfriend the other day and she ordered a sandwich without tomatoes (she’s crazy…I love tomatoes).

When the chef watched her open the sandwich and saw that he accidentally added tomatoes, he said, from accross the cafe, “SORRY! I saw your reaction and realized my mistake”.  He then walked over and said “let me get those out of your face” and took the tomoes away.

He was funny, had a great attitude about making a mistake, and provided great service.  (The last time I went there, they gave me a free espresso shot because the yankees hit a homerun.  I love this place)

6. Smile!

You can set the tone of your interaction early by giving off good vibes.  If you’re providing customer service over the phone or internet, then talk or write like you’re smiling to the best of your ability.

Most of these practices are reliant on having good employees that care about the company.  If your employees don’t believe in your company, how can you expect customers to believe in you?

What are some other ways businesses can provide better customer service without spending a lot of money?  Know of any other “little things” that count?

Thanks to Jon Klar for contributing point #1.

14 thoughts on “6 Cheap Tips For Better Customer Service

  1. Nice post – good tips here. The same thing happened to me when I called customer support for my XBOX red ring of death.

    Make sure to reinforce good behavior when working in customer service, but avoid meeting negative actions with further negativity.

  2. I’m consistently blown away by how few companies emphasize improving point #1. I go out of my way to be overly courteous to any customer service rep helping me. I do the same for service staff at restaurants. People give them crap all day long, and a smile and helpful attitude might just make their day a little bit better. But when I’m going out of my way to make your day better and you treat me like I’m interrupting your sunbathing session, it drives me crazy.

    I think point 3 is one of the most undervalued concepts in the business world. Not only does it show you care, but even if a customer doesn’t need help right then, it gives said customer even less of a reason to hesitate when he or she actually does need help. There’s nothing worse than a festering distaste for a product/company because it doesn’t work but your customer doesn’t feel it’s worth the hassle to contact customer service. It’s basically having your word of mouth value dropping without any available metrics to measure and correct it.

    Finally, I’m a huge advocate of blatant “contact us” elements for any website/printed pieces. Nothing makes me angrier than having an already dysfunctional product and not being able to very, very easily have that product fixed. Making me work to find the most basic contact info is like handing me a broken product and then laughing at me and walking away saying “Good luck.”

    Bottom line: Every company should read this post. It’s simple enough to make sense and complicated enough to actually have a positive effect on companies that would try to use it. Well-done, David. And sorry for the novel of a comment. It’s a terrible habit. So is apologizing for my novels of comments.

    1. Thanks a lot Mike. Glad you found it valuable. Definitely agree on making the “contact us” info much more prominent. Ties in with my point to “take away the hoops”. Avoiding a customer service complaint won’t solve the problem…it will only make it worse.

      1. Agreed. I forgot to mention that I was building off of your Point #4, but that’s exactly what I meant by it as far as only making the problem worse by avoiding it. In those situations, I’ve asked every customer service rep to let their supervisor know that I had frustration with their “hidden” contact information. They may not ever tell them and it may not even do anything about it, but if it does help make a change it will be one less person who suffers the miserable hidden contact info agony. That *may* have been a bit drastic. Maybe.

  3. Oh my…. My favorite topic. Spinks you are the man. Aight. My tip:

    Don’t take things personally: if you or someone on your team screws up, (and its inevitable) the rule is to always accept responsibility. HOWEVER. Never accept that a customer is angry AT you. They are angry at a situation. And with personal accountibility, even if its not your fault, a situation can always be remedied.

    Keep Crushin it,
    And f the yankees.

    Sam Diener
    Stuff for Success

    1. haha thank you sir (=

      Great point. Customers don’t know your reps. But your reps do represent your brand. Your customers aren’t mad at your company’s reps, they’re mad at your company.

      oh and WOO WORLD SERIES CHAMPS!

  4. Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!

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