“How can I help you?” A familiar phrase, a customer greeting, an expression of sincere interest, or is it! In this day of “Do It Yourself” when seeking customer service, you are often greeted by an automated voice, followed by a request to say or enter your 21-digit account number TWICE, your date of birth, the last four digits of your social security number, your street address, and your zip code. Likely, then you are transferred and put on hold and ultimately disconnected. Rarely do you get a call back when it happens even though you also provided a daytime number and an email address. It’s a frustrating process that we have all been through and even laughed at when we see it happen to someone else. Now I know some of you are saying “so why bother,” just go online. That said, going “online” requires your user id and password, but don’t write it down and change it every three months so the information won’t be compromised. Yea, right! If you can’t remember those details give the system the name of your first-grade teacher, the name of your favorite stuffed animal and a college that you did not attend. Ah yes, because all of that information is on the tip of your tongue (or should I say finger) when your insurance is about to be canceled. Please note, if you don’t answer each question correctly, you get locked out, and you have to call customer service for help. At that point, you will be asked to provide your 21-digit account number, your date of birth, and the last four digits of your social security number, your street address, and your zip code. Ah, it’s a vicious cycle.
Whatever happened to old fashion customer service, a real person available to assist you? You know the customer service rep who was so overwhelmed or distracted texting that when they ask how they could help, they had to ask twice because the first time they weren’t listening (my words, not theirs.)
So I ask, is competent and courteous customer service a thing of the past, an unrealistic expectation in this day and age? Let me tell you a true story, and you tell me, “Where’s the customer service?”
While attending a conference in a major hotel in a big East Coast city, a woman mistakenly got off the elevator on the wrong floor. The entire floor was under construction, with debris and tools everywhere, and the walls covered with corrugated plastic. Every inch of the walls was covered including the elevator buttons leaving no way to retrieve the lift. When the hotel chain’s 1 – 800 number was called, and the situation explained, they asked to be connected to the front desk downstairs. After being placed on hold, disconnected and calling back, the hotel operator was asked to call the local property again, announce the call (as opposed to just putting the call in the queue) and tell them it was an emergency. This dance was done at least three times before the call was finally put through to the local front desk and guess what they said? “That floor (the one you are trapped on) is under construction, and no one should be up there!” After several attempts to explain the caller just gave up. They decided to fend for themselves and found an open stairwell and proceeded down to the next open level unsure whether they would come out on the street or some dark alley. Safely downstairs, they proceeded to the front desk to express their outrage when they passed a fast-moving security guard who when asked “Are you on your way to rescue the lady who is trapped on the floor under construction,” he said “yes!” They told him “Don’t bother; I rescued myself. “
Sheila Stennhouse Lee, President/CEO of Sheila Lee & Associates, LLC – Learning Everywhere® was in said hotel conducting customer service training when this happened to her. Needless to say the learners had a field day with this live case study and a very lively discussion ensued.
Ok so it was clearly my fault, the elevator doors opened, and I got out on the wrong floor. Hmm, how many times has that happened to you? I also know we’ve all had numerous lousy customer service experiences, but I ask how many have put your safety at risk?
If you had an opportunity to provide any level of customer service in this scenario, whether it was your responsibility or not, what would you have done differently?
2. Hotel Operator ______________________________________________________
3. Front Desk___________________________________________________________
4. Security Guard_________________________________________________________
5. General Manager_________________________________________________________
I bet your answers included asking probing questions, critical thinking, problem-solving, information sharing, managing expectations and delighting the customer.
We understand a successful organization understands the value of its customers. It strives to continue to provide unsurpassed customer service to its most important asset. The Return on Investment (ROI) for this training topic includes increased awareness of the value of active listening; patience; commitment; effective communication, time management, and goal oriented outcomes, but in a Learning Everywhere® training program there is much more.
Learners are provided with the necessary tools to become more efficient in dealing with both internal and external customers. They are also better able to recognize when different behaviors should be used for dealing with difficult customers. Training programs address the following:
- Understand the value of your customer
- Identify different types of customers
- Proactive customer service
- Responding to the needs of your customer
Learning Everywhere® is a seasoned international training company that expertly leads competency based formal training sessions for large and small groups, comprised of participants ranging from front-line employees to senior level executives in the public and private sectors. Our training facilitators have extensive experience and impressive credentials and understand the value of taping into the learners as a resource. By engaging participants in active discussions, our team will build relevance and meaning, thereby enhancing retention and maximizing the likelihood that skills learned in the classroom are applied back in the workplace. Participants will enter into conversations, debate and disagree, raise new questions, and discuss consequences. Different personalities, voices, values, and approaches will spark interest, and these contrasting viewpoints will encourage more active class participation and independent thinking from all learners.