Tag Archives: customer service

How ‘IT’ Staff Make us Look Good

In this post, I’m going to give some kudos and appreciation to people who work in IT. I think that so many of them work behind the scenes, dealing with a lot of stuff “under the hood”, while we the users end up looking good and getting the accolades. It’s time to give these accolades back to where they belong.

When we complain about a computer problem, printing issue, connectivity issue, all kinds of issues, we often think that we are the only ones with the problem at that time, and that our problem is the most urgent. When we phone or email IT, we probably don’t realize that on the other side, the IT person is probably in the midst of putting out many fires at once, dealing with other people who all have the most  urgent problems in the world! I think we need to consider this the next time we mutter under our breath about why something is taking longer than expected.

Many of the IT staff have set the bar very high for themselves. By being so available, if not by phone, then by email, if not by email, then via some online conference route, if not that then a ‘contact us’ form on the Internet, and usually they reply in such quick fashion. Because of this, we are spoiled and unrealistically expect this service every time.

At our workplace, there are often computer/network printer connectivity issues, in that maybe during peak times, a patron’s print command may not register and then the printing gets paused, or not even initiated. We usually tell patrons to do the time consuming process of saving their work, closing everything, logging off, then retyping user name/password to log on again, reopen previous document, and finally executing the print command once more.

When notified of this, our IT person came up with a short-cut fix and set up something where the patron can click a folder, and then run something called “Printer Fix.” And then the printing will work. Magic? Apparently, clicking the icon acts to reset or refresh the connections without need to log off. I don’t know how it works, how it is set up, what was done behind the scenes, but I do know that patrons are happier for such a simplistic, time saving fix. And they end up thanking us for helping them and giving us their appreciation, while Mr. IT is somewhere else putting out another fire.

Isn’t that often the story of IT? Fixing things during times of stress, but not around to receive praises when things are running smoothly. Indeed, we don’t think about IT much when things are going smoothly, which is most of the time!

I know they often face many complaints, so just wanted to make a post in appreciation and to say: “Things are running great today!”

-Patrick Law

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A Shorter Tale of the Tape (Nonfiction Version?)

Here is another variation on how procrastination can be manifested. Remember yesterday when I wrote about a practical joke played at work to provide some levity to lighten up the air a bit? Now, let me turn that on its head and be absolutely serious.

In my idealistic, almost romantic version, I obviously left a lot of important details out. Is that another danger of procrastination? We write and purposely put off describing the difficult aspects? We do everything, elaborate ad nauseum, within the comfort zone, and stop right before we get to truth?

I don’t mean to say that what I described yesterday wasn’t truthful. It just wasn’t the whole story. To refresh our memories of what happened yesterday, a quick summary of my ‘easy’ story goes like this: Someone asked to borrow the tape; I told them to look it up in the computer and search the online catalogue; those who played along searched for a book I referenced, and found the tape I placed beside the book; I then asked a staff member to please put the roll of tape in the catalogue, so people can search for it directly. All who played along got some laughs out of this.

I guess, in yesterday’s more vivid and fuller description of the story, I may have gone overboard with the potential health benefits for all. I also conveniently left out parts of the story that involved those people who didn’t play along too kindly. What about them?

While most customers played along with polite amusement, there was one patron who just shook his head. There were others who, even though silent, I can read from their faces and body language these messages: “I just want the tape! How hard could that be?” And “Stop wasting my time.”  Actually, you can kind of tell as a patron approaches who is in a rush, who is in a mood to play, and who just wants no nonsense.

The games we play in the process of procrastination, even though the delay was intended to instill a sense of mystery and curiosity rather than always providing the same old same old dry answers right away, these games can pop someone’ blood vessels if used inappropriately.

The tape is over there, beside the photocopier.

-Pat

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I thought you went to get your hair cut?

Getting a haircut is definitely an opportune time to evaluate various aspects of customer service. Throughout our lifetimes, we’ve probably encountered many stylists and have our personal favorites. We may even insist on adjusting our schedules to fit a particular stylists, in order to guarantee our hair is always done by him/her, because we like the service so much.

Me? I’m quite cheap when it comes to haircuts. I always get the basic, bare bones service, and never ask for a special style or highlights or much of anything. In fact, I choose the place based on what coupon I have at the moment of need. The advantage of this is that I’ve been in a position to witness more than my fair share of stylists.

I’ve been to ones who usually try to insist and persuade me into trying what they think. One woman’s voice particularly stands out: “I know what would look really good on you!” I guess that’s okay except she suggests a really good longer hairstyle when, in my context, I’m always looking for a cut that leaves my hair very short. You see, if you haven’t noticed, with my coupons, and going to places where I can just drop in and not make appointments with specific stylists, I like to save money! The shorter I can make my hair, the longer I can go without needing to cut it.

Despite repeating my desire for something short, somehow she persuaded me into a longer style. She was a smooth talker, good at selling, I guess, but it didn’t take me long to get the impression that she may have been suggesting a longer style because she wanted to do less cutting and only just a bit of trimming. Perhaps this wasn’t totally true, but I couldn’t help thinking after I left that I sure didn’t sit in the chair for very long! And when I saw my family, my mother didn’t even notice much of any change in my mop and said: “I thought you went to get your hair cut!”

Not long after, I had to go for another cut, but just not to the lady who prefers longer styles. Fortunately, I had another coupon to another place. In the next blog entry, I’ll continue my adventures on hair and reflections on customer service.

-Patrick Law

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Each phone call, no matter how negative, is an opportunity…

In these economic times, when it may be harder to get new business, it makes it even more important to do all we can to retain our customers and increase the loyalty factor. It is shocking that day in, day out, we can find so many examples where we are left wondering, why didn’t they do just a little bit more to keep their customers? Why do so many throw away opportunties and not make use of situations where the customer is giving them a chance to obtain business?

Today I overheard my friend talking on the phone and asking a hair salon company for the name of the person who did her hair last time. She thought she did a good job, but couldn’t remember her name, and wanted to schedule another appointment. She described the appearance of the hairstylist and which station she usually worked at until the employee on the phone recoginized who she was referring to. The employee said that the hairstylist my friend wanted did not work there any longer.

My friend was of course disappointed, and stayed on the phone a bit to express how satisfied she was last time and also communicated a mood of not knowing where to go next. The employee apologized, did not say or ask much more, and they said their goodbyes.

You may be wondering, as I am, why did the employee not take the opportunity to strive a little harder to retain the customer? My friend, as evident by her reaction, had some hesitancy and indecisiveness about where to go and what to do next. Even though her preferred stylist was no longer working at the salon, the employee already had my friend on the phone and had first shot in convincing my friend to stay with the company.

Maybe the employee could ask my friend what kind of style she likes and then promote one of the stylists in the salon? The employee should show interest by asking questions and then show that their services can meet the needs of my friend. In these kind of situations, where a customer is disappointed and considering going elsewhere, maybe employees should have the authority to offer discounts and special coupons in an effort to keep the customer? Or how about politely asking the customer if they would like to talk to one of the hairstylists to discuss on a more personal level about the desired look that the customer is after?

Each phone call is an opportunity to improve the customer relationship. The employee probably assumed that because the preferred stylist is not available anymore, this meant the end of the interaction and relationship. It’s up to the employee, especially while the customer is still on the phone, to convince her not to go elsewhere.

-Patrick Law

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Couple of New Books on Customer Service

Great timing! 2 new books are out focusing on exceptional customer service.

MANAGEMENT LESSONS FROM THE MAYO CLINIC By Leonard L. Berry and Kent Seltman

THE NEW GOLD STANDARD By Joseph Michelli

In another post at this site, there was a story describing exceptional customer service given by a dental hygienist.  It’s interesting that more and more focus is being paid to health industries. Another reader commented about how her mystery shopping business will start a shop in the medical field and the Globe and Mail had an article this morning reviewing the two books mentioned above. Lots of pleasant surprises can by found and lessons learned from situations where we normally wouldn’t expect extraordinary service.

Enjoy!

-Patrick Law

 

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How Exceptional Customer Service Improves Oral Hygiene

We often dread going to the dentist. I am not an exception. I’ve always had problems with my gums, specifically regarding flossing consistently and then brushing and flossing with the proper technique. These points have been pounded into me again and again over the past years, over many return visits, but for some reason it has never hit home and stuck.

Both dentists and hygienists in the past have tried a variety of methods. Some have joked that my pristine healthy teeth would mean nothing if my gums are too weak and unhealthy to hold them in place. Some tried a ‘tough love’ approach where they threatened me, of how the plaque would get into my blood stream and render all my workouts and exercising meaningless. Others would ignore me or just answer ‘it’s actually not that bad’ when I ask numerous questions and lament at how I can’t seem to get my gums in top shape. One dentist I had came close to offering something that was different and could possibly stick with impact when he said, “You hear the length of the song that is playing on the radio right now? That’s how long you should be brushing.”

This last piece of advice was unique and could have had lasting value but, unfortunately, he said it with no emotion, no intonation, as if we were just pressing ‘repeat’ on his programmed voice. It didn’t sound like he put much stock into this advice and didn’t believe in it much himself. It sort of came out just as part of his exhale and breathing pattern, no different.

My last visit to the dentist, however, I was lucky enough to receive exceptional customer service from a new dental hygienist that, believe it or not, has me excited to return and update her on the progress of my gums. The first thing she did that was noticeable was take off her mask when talking at length with me. Instead of rushing to get inside my mouth with her cleaning tools, she would grab a chair when I had concerns and questions. As you know, it’s difficult to talk while all those tools are in my mouth, so it’s refreshing that she purposely sets aside a bit of time for only discussion where we are fully focused on the concerns at hand.

During this time, she asked about my problem areas (gums, of course) and which parts of my mouth/teeth were most sensitive. Then, when she was doing the cleaning, she would be more gentle and take more care in those sensitive areas. In addition, she was aware during times when I would feel a bit of pain or wince, or my eyes getting teary, and start to hum a calming tune in an effort to counteract the pain and create a mood to help me tolerate the discomfort.

And, finally, upon leaving, I had more questions about brushing. The hygienist again removed her mask, grabbed a seat, and in her explanation not only showed me proper brushing technique but thought about ideas to get me motivated to enjoy brushing. Here, she didn’t just recite something from a manual or just send me away quickly with whatever words would quickly do. Instead, she actually paused, was silent, puzzled, deep in thought, before excitedly coming up with an idea that was colored and memorable because of her unique style. She said: “Brushing. No wonder it can be mundane. You’re doing it pretty much at the same time, same place, every day. It’s pretty dreary in the washroom, isn’t it? We usually don’t want to hang out there too long. How about this? Try, at times, taking brushing outside of the washroom? Try adding a few brushing sessions at nontraditional times and in nontraditional places to spice it up?”

Before this experience, I certainly didn’t really think of a dental office as a place to discover exceptional service. Just do the cleaning, fix what needs fixing, and get me the hell out of there. This was one of the few times when I wanted to stay longer. Also, at home, when I brush and floss, I tend to do it longer, and with a smile on my face, when associating it with this pleasurable experience I had.  I also find myself humming a similar tune the hygienist hummed when cleaning in hard to reach and sensitive areas.

-Patrick Law

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Creating Opportunities with ‘Accidental’ Visitors

When a visitor enters your premises, but is actually in the wrong place and looking for something/somewhere else, how do you usually respond? I think most of us quickly relay to the visitor that the current place is not correct and politely give directions to the desired location. That’s what I usually do.

Upon reflection, can this be a great opportunity to pump up customer service and promote the place that you work at? Even if the visitor did not intend to come to your place, if we create a strong impression, they may return in the future. And, instead of just quickly pointing the visitor to another direction, are we able to combine this with a quick sentence or two introducing what we do and what our services are?

We naturally think of keeping our regular customers satisfied and targeting specific customers to attract, but perhaps awareness to the potential of ‘accidental’ customers can create unexpected opportunities.

-Patrick Law

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