We hate the phone company. Maybe that’s a little strong, but it’s true. Every month there’s something wrong with our company billing. And every month we have to get on the phone, ironically, and scramble our way up the various customer service ladders while a big gorilla throws flaming barrels of confusion and frustration our way, like Mario in the old Donkey Kong video game (hopefully some of you got that reference). We’re on the phone for inordinate amounts of time, practically begging for someone who can actually think beyond their automated scripts and take action on our behalf, with usually little or no satisfactory resolution.
It’s one thing when large corporations can afford to offer minimal or marginal customer service, because let’s face it, we don’t have a lot of choice a lot of the time (phone companies are prime examples). And even if we do jump ship, we’re usually jumping into another large faceless corporate “ghost ship.”
But for smaller HR and benefit suppliers, most of us can’t afford to lose one customer, much less hundreds to a competitor. Basic customer service: it’s a big part of what customer retention is all about. Your company may have a designated customer service department, which might consist of a team of many, or one. Or, if you don’t, any one of your staff may come into contact with customers who, God help us, will have questions about your products and services.
Here are some basic customer service rules that we follow at HRmarketer.com:
Remember, handling customers questions or concerns in a timely and friendly manner is vital to the long-term success of your company.
- Every single person on your staff – from your president to your receptionist to your marketing assistant to your part-time student help – must have a basic understanding of what it is your company does and sells.
- Make a checklist of the 10 most frequently asked questions and circulate it throughout your firm. Test your team regularly to ensure they can answer the question. As your products and services evolve, keep the checklist up to date.
- Whether it’s an email or phone message from a customer, respond to those immediately, within at least one hour of receipt (if you don’t have 24/7 coverage, which smaller firms do not, then respond first thing in the morning). If it’s a question that requires further research, then still respond to the customer telling them you’re investigating and will get back to them as soon as possible. Update the customer in a timely manner if it becomes an extended issue to resolve.
- Nothing is worse than hearing someone say “I can’t help you with that” and then offering no other solution. If you can’t help the customer, find someone in your firm that can – now, not later.
- There is always a solution for the customer. Always. I can’t emphasize that enough. Of course, if a customer asks you to come over and mow his lawn, you’re probably not going to do that, but you could offer to research and find local landscaping resources for him.
They aren’t a nuisance; they’re your business.