Thursday, March 18, 2010

Craving Poor Customer Service

Can it be that a majority of the global population crave poor customer service? It could be true, why else would so many companies try so hard to consistently offer poor customer service.

Organisations, through their Management and Strategic Leaders, are constantly taught to meet the expectations of the customer – so they must be in contact with this vast group of customers that crave poor service, who relish long queues, who delight in rude people and who expect poor quality and over-priced products.

It sometimes feels like I’m a member of a minority who not only seek, but expect, service quality and excellence. The return for the organisation is my patronage and loyalty – but this seems to be scoffed at.

Yet where does one find this vast group of people who crave poor customer service?

In contradiction to the above I find that the majority of people still crave service excellence and who sadly find customer service is becoming a rarer and rarer commodity.

So why the contradiction and who’s to blame? If so many people do in fact desire to receive service excellence, then do these same people always offer it when on the other side of the counter? If not, why the hypocrisy?

Customer service is one of the simplest skills for organisations to implement. You don’t need books and training courses to embrace it. Since, as is more likely, the majority of us do crave service excellence, then the first place to start is to treat your customer as you’d like to be treated. How complicated is that? If you’d expect reliability then offer it; if you’d expect quality then offer it – it really is that simple and when the customer’s expectations are unrealistic, don’t confront or lie to them, engage with them and change their expectations.

As customers we must also take some of the blame for accepting poor service in the first place. We have actually lowered our standards, as it seems to be the path of less resistance and we avoid that ‘conflict moment’. We find excuses by telling ourselves that we don’t have the time, don’t want the hassle and don’t expect to make a difference anyway.

Many of us have given up the belief that we deserve service excellence and have forgotten the power we have. As customers we need to start demanding and responding to service excellence and when we don’t get it vote with our feet and assert our right to complain!

Organisations also need to practically understand how all their employees approach customer service. Although it’s the organisation that gets the reputation for poor service, it isn’t the organisation that offers bad service, it’s the people within it – and it is often an unchecked minority who create the bad image for all to be tarnished with. If organisations don’t encourage and reward service excellence then they mustn’t be surprised when their customers, say ‘enough is enough’ and leave for greener pastures.

So in 2010 it’s time for you, the customer, to demand your right for service excellence and to realise you do have the power to make a difference in today’s technological world.

Finally there are astute organisations, large and small, who have already realised that offering personalised service excellence is a very real and sustainable competitive advantage in the 21st Century. To those special few, I thank you for meeting my expectations and making my ‘shopping’ experience such a pleasure.

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