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HPMD Bullets


Much of our contact with companies is by telephone. Correct or not, these experiences often form the basis of our perceptions about the quality of the firm. We all have opinions about what are acceptable phone manners and what are not. But it is the power of the interaction to alter customers' perceptions that is the opportunity. A few simple guidelines can be greatly improve the conclusions your buying public form. Here’s some common wisdom we have gathered from our good and bad experiences:
  1. Answer on the first ring. Do you know any responsive companies who take forever to answer the phone? This is basic blocking and tackling. Service starts with how quickly the phone is answered.
  2. Always get permission to put on hold. Too often "please hold" becomes the quickest way to stop the phone from ringing. When you ask for permission to do so, you demonstrate customer care.
  3. Solve the problem now. If you can resolve the question or issue on the first call, you will save the extra time and cost needed to follow-up. You also don't keep the customer waiting.
  4. Own the call. Customer issues are not the hand grenade to be passed on as quickly as possible. That's a sure way to have customers explode. It's your call, your customer. Even if you need to bring in the expert, don't step out of the loop until it's fixed.
  5. Don't refer, consult. This goes hand-in-hand with owning the call. Don't refer the customer from person to person. Being bounced around a company is the quickest recipe for an irate customer. Consult with the experts, bring them to the customer call.
  6. Assist, don't defend. Ask yourself a simple question: who do customer support representatives represent? Who do they support? It's the same answer: the customer. Don't defend the company, especially not the policies. Help the customer get what they need. Be the tour guide, senator and cheer leader for the customer in your organization.
  7. Always give your name and number. The interaction with customers is person-to-person. Names, numbers, and permission to call back and hunt you down are part of the relationship.
  8. Phone smiles are noticed. Put a mirror behind your phone and watch your expression while you speak with a customer. Notice when you frown and when you smile. How customers respond usually follows the difference.
  9. Return calls same day. This is the other side of responsiveness. Fast follow-up never fails to delight the customer, even if it's to say you need some more time to fully resolve the issue.
  10. Get back to the customer when you say you will. If you say "I'll get back to you," do it without fail.
  11. Go for the thank-you. The goal of good customer service is not to merely solve the customers' problem; it's to get the positive response. Do what it takes to get the response, "I really appreciate your help." Your customers will feel great, and so will you.
  12. Keep those cards and letters coming. Never miss an opportunity to ask a happy customer to drop a brief note in the mail about the service they received. It reinforces the excellent service in the customer's mind. Posting the letters in a prominent place reinforces it in the employee's mind.
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