The Do’s & Don’ts of Great Customer Service

March 2, 2013

do's-and-don'ts-for-great-customer-service-dale-carnegie-new-jerseyAs I was sitting here deciding what blog topic to write about, the content of my blog became clear when I had to go through a frustrating ordeal with none other than…the cable company.

I think just about everyone has their own horror story about their experience at one time or another with the cable company.  I was just about to switch over from one cable company to another to save on my monthly bill, but after my experience today, I’d rather pay an extra $25 per month.  No third-party promotion here, but all it took was a terrible customer service experience with a potential new cable company for me to realize that I am better off sticking with my existing cable company who has been good to me over the past two years.  This is a shining example of how providing great customer service may command a higher price and create customer loyalty.

For the most part, most cable companies are relatively the same.  They provide the same major cable stations.  They provide the same movie channels.  They have high definition and digital video recording (DVR) features, internet service and several even have telephone service now.

The lesson in this is how the one thing that can help set a business a part from its competitors is customer service. It is the lifeblood of most businesses and if you’re in the service industry, forget it – – it is the whole basis of your existence!  A customer will walk away and remember their experience with your company and if they have a positive or negative experience and how such a negative experience is handled may be the difference between creating a repeat customer, acquiring new customers and even losing an existing customer.

Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts for providing great customer service.

DO listen to your customers. Listening to your customers is just as important, if not more important, than the actual message or answer that you convey.  If a customer expresses a particular need, listen.  If they share an unpleasant experience, listen.  Find out what it is that your customers need and don’t just hear them, listen to them.

DON’T place unhappy customers on hold (for too long).  Nothing is more frustrating that already being upset and then being placed on hold for a long period of time.  I can speak from first-hand experience today, but being transferred to another department three and four different times over the course of one hour (yes, 60 minutes!) is far too long.  My level of frustration went from annoyed and displeased to angry and completely over it.  Needless to say, my phone eventually died and I couldn’t stay on hold any longer.

DO handle certain calls with a live person.  Part of my terrible customer service experience today had to do with having the cable company leaving me a pre-recorded message at my work, notifying me that the installation appointment was canceled and that they would contact me another time to reschedule.  This was twice as frustrating, because this message was left at my work number while I was taking the day off to stay at home and wait for installation for home service. They had my home (mobile) number and that is the kind of call that should be handled by the technician scheduled to go out and do the service, even just to explain the reason why the installation was not going to be taking place.  Most people (myself included) understand that things happen and stuff comes up.  Had a technician called me and said, “Hey, I am running way behind due to a few of my first jobs scheduled this morning.  It’s not looking like I am going to be able to come out today, unless it’s really late.”  Something.  Now I’m left without answers and I tried to call and get answers, but as noted above, that got me nowhere.

DON’T make empty promises to your customers.  One of the most frustrating experiences for customers is working with a company that makes empty promises.  It can be something as simple as being told that you will get back to them on Wednesday and returning their call on Friday (or worse yet, not at all, until they have to call you back!).  It is important that you have a system in place that creates reminders and procedures in place to make sure that the promises made to customers are met and that, if for any reason, you or your company can’t deliver on such a promise, that it is handled directly as soon as possible to rectify the situation.

DO handle complaints promptly and with urgency.  Complaints should be viewed as fires that need to be put out and handled with a great deal of urgency, care and consideration.  People don’t like to be confronted and don’t like to deal with things that may make them uncomfortable or may put them in a defensive position, but customer complaints are not meant to be swept under a rug, because what may have been a minor complaint may soon escalate into a much bigger problem.  This cable company is also my phone provider and I am already highly considering changing my phone service as well.

DON’T get too big to give good service.  Companies that get really big cannot forget to provide great customer service.  I actually made a point to call the sales line and immediately got a hold of someone, who then went to transfer me to a customer service agent and disconnected me.  But, my whole point was that the people I dealt with initially placing the order for service were very responsive and were very friendly.  Then, once I moved from being a “prospective customer” to “customer”, I was put through a series of systems that put me on hold for over an hour and still never got my concerns and issues resolved.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey, leaders in the area of education and training of the nation’s leaders in the areas of team member engagement, customer service, leadership development, and sales and presentation training. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter.

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