I love CUSTOMER CARE. I started to say customer service, but as I thought about it I realized that perhaps that is what I don’t like. Customer service is simply going through the motions and getting “the job” done. Customer care is actually looking at your customer, putting yourself in their shoes, and trying to give them exactly what they need. More than what they need…what will delight them. To care for them as people, not just see them as every other customer.
I wonder sometimes why the senior management in most companies do not spend much time checking out the front lines. I believe any CEO should spend regular time meeting with customers. Not just the big customers, but a random sampling of everyman. If there is a call center, I think they need to do some time answering the calls. Or at least listening in. (Truth is many CEOs would not be able to answer the questions.) I think they would be surprised. I think perhaps they would reconsider if those jobs should pay minimum wage and minimal skills. I think it’s worth investing resources there. Pay more than the rest for very competent customer care professionals, then give them the tools and empowerment to get things done. It would pay off in spades.
A friend of mine lost her Fitbit recently. My immediate reaction was “Write them, tell them, and send them a receipt.” I lost mine in a field in SC, while crewing at a balloon festival. We barely found that field with GPS….I never would have been able to find it again once I realize my Fitbit was gone. I wrote the company because I was annoyed I lost it. I didn’t blame the company, but I was (and still am) confused as to why they designed the bands so they could come off so easily (especially for someone like me, who has lost rings off of her fingers.) I also wanted to tell them I did like their product, though, and had benefitted from it. I didn’t expect for them to ask for proof of purchase and replace it….but they did. Yes, I like that company.
We all have the horror stories. The people who treat us like we are interrupting their day. Those that ignore us as they have a personal conversation with their co-worker. Those who have a line of customers a mile long and work as though they are heavily medicated and don’t see it (especially in airports….don’t get me started.) The calls we make to Customer Service that require 15 phone prompts, and still get us someone who isn’t very helpful. Is it a wonder we’re all a bit crazy about it?
If you run a business, you have to be concerned about your customers. Whether you run a Fortune 500 company, or just a business of one. If you want to have a successful business it’s probably not just about you. Sometimes your policies and procedure have to be about the customers you wish to have or retain. Their problems, their schedules, their needs…they should be important to you. You’ll be dealing with people who are imperfect. How you react to them matters. Are you out to judge them, to berate them, or perhaps should you show them some mercy? Sometimes you have to deliver bad news, or even criticism, but these sorts of things can be done with kindness. Caring for people doesn’t always come naturally. What’s that saying “It’s easy to show love to the lovely?” Many businesses have been made with a customer base of the unlovely, who once they are noticed start to shine a bit brighter and become much nicer.
In this age of poor social skills, customer care is almost a lost art. I think I have become accepting of even mediocre service because that’s the high side of the norm. But those times when I as a customer am delighted, I try to delight them in return. I want to give them more of my business and I want to send my friends. The little things matter. If you’re going to be in a business where you have customers, don’t let them walk away without noticing you, simply because you didn’t notice them. Each is different. Make them feel special, so they feel that you care. I love customer care…..because it means you care about your customer.