What Exactly IS Customer Service?

For those of us in the service industry, whether it be insurance,  real estate, or fast food-I’m sure you’ve taken at least ONE class on Customer Service. Even if you’re not in the service industry-we’ve all had some sort of customer service experience.  But tell me:

What Exactly IS Customer Service?

SMILE 🙂 Customers can hear it through your voice.

Put yourself in their shoes.

Go the extra mile.

Treat others how you want to be treated.

Oh and my favorite-The customer is ALWAYS right.

 

I was just in Urgent Care for my youngest son over the weekend.  I’ve been to this particular urgent care many of times (I have 2 boys) and every visit has been nothing less than satisfactory. I recommend this urgent care to neighbors, friends and other moms in my area. I visit it again and again because of my positive customer experience.

Back to this instance. I was elated when I walked in and saw no one else in the waiting room. I went up to the receptionist to check in and her cold tone and complete disregard for my sick child (whom is adorable, by the way) just gave me a sour taste. While waiting for what seemed like an eternity, I was able to listen in on some of her conversations. The first was a phone conversation, of which I could only hear her response:

“I have no idea where we are on Lee Highway. I’m not from here.”

I felt TERRIBLE for the person on the other end. They’re clearly calling an urgent care center because they or someone they know/love is in need of immediate health assistance. While I didn’t know if it was on the east or west side of Lee Highway, I at least yelled to the receptionist:

“Tell them it’s by the restaurant Crisp and Juicy!”

While this information may not have been incredibly helpful (I get that some people aren’t as fat and food focused as I am), it at least showed the customer that she cared and was attempting to help. If I were that person on the other end and someone said they have no idea how to help me…There is NO WAY I’d visit that particular urgent care. This one phone call could have cost this center a customer. If this were me-many customers considering the amount of referrals I deliver.

Fast forward 2 snacks, 3 rounds of “Wheels on the Bus” and a few temper tantrums. A middle aged man walked into this center. Keep in mind NO ONE else is in this Urgent Care Center at this time. The man had a question about the bill he just received for his mother’s recent visit. To no surprise, the receptionist showed no empathy or compassion, and offered absolutely no resolutions to his issue. He asked to speak to someone else (legitimate request). Her response:

“It’s SATURDAY. Of course no manager would be here”. 

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

WHAT?!! This  man had a simple billing question and when she couldn’t answer it, asked to speak to someone else. Thankfully a nurse walked into the front office area. She overheard some of the conversation from behind the closed doors and offered to review the charges shown on his statement. Her tone was completely opposite of the receptionist’s. The nurse was kind. Caring. She seemed like she genuinely wanted to help this previous customer. While neither she nor the receptionist could completely resolve the situation, after speaking to the nurse, the customer left with a sense of fulfillment. The nurse provided such a simple solution. She gave him a business card of a number he could call and dispute charges. (This business card sits about 12 inches from the receptionist’s computer.)

As the gentleman was walking out of the Urgent Care center, the receptionist turns to the nurse and says…

WAIT FOR IT…

“I said the exact same thing. I think maybe it’s the tone of my voice or something. I really don’t understand why he didn’t listen to me.”

 

Even my 2 year old laughed at this (by spilling an entire cup of water on the floor). As we were finally called back to see the doctor, it got me thinking. Do certain people seriously not realize their customer relations skills are complete crap? Does that receptionist go home after a long day, proud of the way she handled herself? Bigger picture-does that Urgent Care center know what impression she is leaving on their customers? She is the first thing people see. She is the first person people talk to. She is probably the last person they will see/talk to as well. Entering an Urgent Care center, no one is happy to be there. They’re either sick, sad, or a little of both. Having someone greet them with a positive experience can be a complete game changer.


I was trying to put my thoughts about this Urgent Care episode to paper on Monday night and just when I was about halfway through, my Dell laptop completely crashed. It just turned off and wouldn’t turn back on.

COME ON!!! What is UP 2018?! (2 year olds aren’t the only ones who throw tantrums in my family.)

I immediately took my computer to the Geek Squad in the morning. After a quick 5 minute diagnostics test, they determined they can’t do anything to help me. Is this bad customer service? Absolutely not! In fact-this is GREAT customer service. He scanned my computer. He tried a few different options. He showed complete empathy, and above all-he didn’t waste my time.

I got home and called Dell support. I had never called Dell support before. My expectations were, to say the least, extremely low.

I thought I’d be on hold forever.

I thought there was no shot I would get my problem resolved.

I thought it would be a complete waste of my time to call a support center.

 

My phone call was answered immediately by a very nice gentleman. He apologized for the inconvenience this caused me and assured me he would do everything he could to help me. Wow! Awesome! After a few short questions, we were attempting to diagnose the problem together over the phone. He realized rather quickly that this problem was something the Dell Support Center would have to inspect.

“Would it be alright if Dell sent an empty FedEx box to your home? We will have your computer further analyzed by our team to see if there is ANYTHING we can do to save your computer.”

Umm…YES. This great customer representative then went through some general questions-home address, contact phone number, etc. He started advising me of the possible charges, wait times and warranty information. Everything was GREAT…and then…

“Okay, let me confirm all the information I have is correct.”

He started reading back our entire transcript he clearly had printed in front of him. Mind you, I have already been on the phone for 30 minutes. I imagine many people hang up on him at this point, but he was so great that I just let him read the entire conversation back to me. After a few laps around my island in my kitchen (gotta get those steps in somehow), he finally asks,

Is there anything else I can help you with?”

This is a great customer service closing line in my opinion. It is essentially putting the feelings back in the customer’s court. The customer makes the final decision to either end the conversation or ask for follow up assistance. I didn’t need any further assistance, but in this particular case-the conversation was not over either. He asked if I could be placed on a brief hold to talk to his manager. I assumed this was to partake in a customer service review, of which I absolutely wanted to praise his support and helpfulness. Of course I would hold to tell his manager how awesome he was.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ….

I seriously fell asleep waiting for the manager to get on the line. No joke. Passed out on my couch when I hear, “Ma’am, are you there?”.  I wipe the drool from my chin and am eager to tell this boss how amazing his employee did…to which he interrupts with…

“I’d like to go over the details of your conversation.”

AND READS ME THE ENTIRE TRANSCRIPT AGAIN.

While my experience with the Dell Support Center was still an overall plus…is there such thing as TOO MUCH CUSTOMER SERVICE? It was almost comical! Stop asking if I live at ….. McLean, VA. You have it in your transcript six times! It gets to a point where the customer feels annoyed. They feel like their time is being wasted. Being able to take a hint and read a person through the phone is hard, I get it. My excessive huffing and annoyed laughs weren’t enough?


Comparing the two instances is night and day. The receptionist at the Urgent Care center needs some serious self evaluation and customer service books to read up on. Quite frankly-the Urgent Care center should really be doing onsite evaluations of their employees if they want to last in a competitive environment like northern VA. Dell, on the other hand, should be really proud of the way their employee handled himself. He was such a professional and a complete joy to work with. It wasn’t even the manager’s fault for being so annoying :/. I blame corporate for implementing those practices for them to follow. Again-looking at this big picture, Dell should be doing onsite evaluations. Have a corporate employee randomly call and see if they’re completely satisfied with the way their procedures are working.

Evaluating these situations was fun. But it also opened my eyes to the practices our own insurance agency has implemented and practiced for years. I have to say-I’m extremely proud of the way our receptionist greets our customers. She is always so happy to talk to each and every one of our clients. The first impression of our agency is, for the most part, a positive experience.

We have always put education as a priority in our agency. Having a smart, well trained staff allows us to efficiently advise our clients on what we feel is best. Even though we are all allowed to have bad days, AFS employees truly do have empathy for our customers. We understand how important that antique car is to you. We will ask about your kids, your jobs, your life.

It is our commitment, here at AFS,  to truly understand our clients. It’s important for our customers to feel their financial assets and most prized pocessions are in good hands and that they will be taken care of with the greatest respect. 

 

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