When Does Customer Service Become A** Kissing?

March 31, 2011 at 1:47 pm 4 comments

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It’s been my observation lately that we as a society have lost the meaning of customer service. Now that’s a very broad, blanket statement I know but for the most part its true. The culprits are mostly the large corporations and chains. They have gotten so big and are generating so much revenue that they aren’t much concerned with customer service. Sad.

I’ll cite an example. A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in my home office and noticed two gentlemen walking up my drive. One had one of those “wheel on a stick” measuring devices. I met them at the door and asked how I could help them, then I noticed the logo on the other guys shirt. They represented a national company that provided lawn treatment and service.

He was friendly enough at first. Complimented me on my lawn when I told him I did it myself. Then he turned to me with this stern but quizzical look and asked me a question as if I were a six year old with my hand in the cookie jar, “Why would you want to do that?” I immediately felt I needed to defend myself and told him that basically calling me stupid wasn’t endearing him to me and ask him and his buddy to leave. He invades my property, puts me down for doing my own lawn then wants me to use his service? I think not.

His rudeness was simply a trainable problem. Had he turned and said what a good job I was doing and if he could ever be of service give him a call and handed me his card, I would have favorable feelings for the company he represented. I might have even called them in the future if and when I needed their service. Instead I’m sure he felt he had been wronged by me and moved on to another victim.

So just what is true customer service? I’ll keep it short and give you three points.

After all it’s part of the descriptor. Service isn’t about commissions, number of calls made, or a big customer list. It’s about how you solve your customer’s problems. You don’t do that by making a problem up. My lawn was fine, however had he been truly customer oriented he would have talked to me about feeding my trees. A service they offered. He, however, wasn’t service oriented. He was pocketbook oriented. His own of course.

True customer service is about building a relationship with the customer. Being rude or inferring that the customer is stupid and can’t live without you is not the way to build that relationship. You need to build trust and credibility and you do that over a period of time not one meeting in the front yard. If the two guys trying to sell me lawn service would have stopped in to chat, get to know me and compliment me on a lawn well done, they would have started to build a relationship with me. They may have found out that there was some areas they could help me with, but they were just getting signatures on bottom lines and nothing more.

Here’s where the a** kissing reference comes in. Be honest with the customer. If his water pump needs replacing and he’s insisting that it’s the spark plugs tell him straight. Don’t replace his plugs and then let him go on his way and ruin his engine because he ran out of coolant. Kissing his fanny and making him feel like he’s smarter than you doesn’t build a honest relationship. There’s that word again, relationship. Spend less time playing the customer and more time building a strong bridge between you.

Good customer service doesn’t come easy. It takes work, training and practice. The great thing is that it pays big in dividends like repeat business and customer loyalty. Try it, you’ll like it! If I can be of service to you, give me a shout.

Michael Irvin
Creative Project Manager
913.677.7060 cell: 913.530.7030

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Debbie Lindenlaub  |  March 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Loved the blog and very well put. You are dead on with your three points to customer service. The only one I’d add is patience/listening. These are two aspects most people have lost sight of. I guess they are in too big a hurry to make the sale. It’s better to listen to what your client wants, then make suggestions that coordinate with their requests. That way they know you’re listening.

    • 2. mirvin1129  |  March 31, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      Thanks so much for the reply. I appreciate the feedback. You’re right on with the patience/listening. That’s one that I’m constantly working on myself. You can’t problem solve for a client if you don’t ask the right questions, LISTEN, and then formulate an answer. Customer service is all about the client, not about you.

  • 3. Kathleen Coleman  |  April 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Customer Service has always come naturally to me and so I really notice when I receive bad service. I believe the “key” ingredient with giving excellent customer service is listening and being able to drill done to the person’s core issue.

    Case in point, I had a person call the Girl Scout office and she was complaining and saying how disappointed she was with a program she had attended. I was listening and asking more questions to really determine if it was the program she was unhappy with or the instructor and what it really was is that her daughter didn’t receive the fun patch for attending on the day of the event and she still hadn’t received it. Once I determined her real issue and told her that I would personally make sure that the patch was in the mail that day, she was happy as a clam!

    Kathleen Coleman

    • 4. mirvin1129  |  April 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Listening is the key to good customer service. Not everyone is a good communicator and often our emotions get in the way so when a business person takes the time to listen and glean out the real problem it helps the situation.



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