Lately I have been thinking about customer service. As a small business owner whose business depends on word of mouth we do everything that we can to keep our clients happy. Do you need a color changed on a personalized gift? No problem, just let us know and we are happy to change it. How about a hand written note in the gift, again no problem. I have been known to be at FedEx making their last shipment out so a present could go out in time because the client needed that to happen. Now needless to say we are not a perfect company, but we try really really hard to do everything that we can for our clients. Bottom line without those clients none of us would be here. So when the tables get turned and I am the client I expect a certain level of service. When I am in Kroger (our local grocery store) I am their customer. Walk in, find what I need and leave. But the store is always clean, the staff is friendly and the checkout lines pretty quick. Would Kroger go under if I stopped shopping there, of course not. However when I leave Kroger I have what I need and it is a pleasant experience. They have a happy customer. Then there is Comcast. I am also Comcast's customer, and I am not happy. At our shop we are going on our third day of telephone problems. Calls have been hit or miss, our fax machine is completely down and so is our credit card machine. I spent many hours on my cell phone with Comcast trying to get it taken care of. End result is that I wasted lots of time on hold, was told it was an area outage that was fixed, except mine wasn't and that it would be late the next morning before it could be fixed. Keep in mind that we are a "business customer" and pay extra for that privilege which is supposed to mean expedited service. I will be interested to see when the tech shows up. But what really gets me is that Comcast just doesn't care. They don't care that my business is suffering because of the outage, they don't care that I wasted my time and energy on the phone with them and they don't care that I as the customer is upset. Which is wholly ironic because their whole as campaign is built around customer service. Ha ha ha.
This incident made my really consider what customer service is and what clients should expect.
1. Clients should expect businesses to be gracious, respectful and polite. Every single person who walks in a shop should be hear a friendly greeting. When they call they should get a person hopefully and get their questions answered. And if we cannot answer them right off the bat, then we will find out the answer and call them back.
2. Clients should expect that their order is handled carefully. In our world that means that spellings are checked and rechecked before a personalized gift is sent to production. It means that colors are done correctly and that if something in the order looks a bit off we follow up. Calling or emailing a client to make sure something is right is a given. The end product has to be right.
3. Clients should be able to depend on the advice that they are given. We know etiquette around here. And the reason that we know is because it is our business. Clients look to us to make sure that their wording on the invitation, stationery or gift is right. It is our job to tell them what is correct and that information to be correct. By the same token it is also our job to print what the client wants us to regardless of what is "correct". Everyone's situation is different and we appreciate that.
4. Clients should expect errors or mistakes to be dealt with quickly and professionally. While I would love to say we never misprint anything, that is just not the case. In fact one of our favorite and best clients was someone whose original order got messed up. We simply apologized and sent her the correct item. She was so impressed that she has become a wonderful client and a great advertiser for us. She said that she was surprised that we took responsibility and fixed things so quickly. But of course we did!
5. Finally clients should expect that businesses big and small are thankful and appreciate them. We make every effort to thank our clients, to make sure that we know that they have a choice and we are so happy that they picked us. I think Comcast could learn something on that front.