Why Are We Still Failing At Customer Service?

We all think we can teach this class. We can identify poor service immediately. We see what’s wrong and how it can be fixed in an instant!

I like what Ohad Shperling, a writer at Personalics, says: “A bad customer experience -we all know what it feels like. The blow-a-gasket, go-ballistic, hit-the-ceiling, foam-at-the-mouth rage after an encounter with customer “service”…” You can relate I’m sure.

failing at customer service

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We all know what it FEELS like yet when providing service we seem to fall into another dimension – parroting off rules and regulations – repeating phrases as if the person in front of us is a complete moron.

I understand poor customer service where there is very little competition. I am not going to “out” any companies here. They know who they are. You know who they are. But what’s the excuse for the smaller businesses who are not the ONLY provider?

My take is that all of us are way too distracted and have become comfortable with interruption and uncomfortable with being fully present.

That’s one part of the problem and I’ll share with you a process for bringing yourself back into the present moment towards the end of this column.

But first let me ask you this – if you know what it feels like to receive poor customer service, why would you do the same thing yourself, when you are the one providing the service?

We love to say here in Trinidad and Tobago “do so doh like so…”

In Jeffrey Fox’s book “How to Become a Rainmaker” he shares marketing’s first commandment:

Treat each customer as you would treat yourself.

Do you like to be overcharged, underserved, put on endless hold, overbooked, told your room isn’t ready, falsely promised, shipped late, ignored, not thanked?

ALWAYS put yourself in the shoes of the good customer. Answer the question “What would I want if I were the customer?”

The answer is what you should strive to provide.

So about our distraction addiction – are you addicted to distraction?

Here is an exercise from the book “Focus” by Leo Babauta that might prove useful:

As you’re reading this post, how many times were you distracted or tempted to switch to another task?

How many times did you think of something you wanted to do, or check your email or other favorite distractions? How many times did you want to switch, but resisted? How many different things made a noise or visual distraction while you were reading? How many people tried to get your attention?

In an ideal world, the answers to all those questions would be “zero” — you’d be able to read with no distractions, and completely focus on your task. Most of us, however, have distractions coming from all sides, and the answers to this little exercise will probably prove illuminating.

What you need is to learn a method to temporarily silence the nonstop mental chatter that usually runs in the back of your mind.

So what do you do?

You remember to pause during the day, at different points. Like everything else, this will take practice. Pause and direct your thoughts inside your body. Focus next on your breathing and following your breath, in and out through your nose. Become aware of your breathing in your chest and in your belly. Next become aware of your entire body in the present moment. You are now ready to listen and to receive.

Start practicing right away, remembering to remember to pause several times throughout the day. It does take practice. And it will be challenging at first. How do I know? Because I’m practicing as well mainly because I have become so addicted to distraction.

Recently I made an error in some client work that the client had to bring to my attention. I did not check the content before sharing and totally would have screwed up the message had the client not picked up my error and immediately place a call to me. I promised her that I would quadruple-check everything from here on in. Am I usually sloppy? No I am not. However, I was in busy mode, lots to do and wanted to get that task off my list. This was an instance where I treated my client in a way that I would not have liked to be treated myself.

Customer service training is valuable but only as a reference. It is still up to us to choose what is best, based on what we know, but also on our own assessment in that moment, as to what the customer needs. We can only do this if we are present. If not we are less likely to provide great customer service and as a result, keep failing at doing so.

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