When Customer Service Doesn’t Involve People

In my last post I talked about the importance of the personal interaction between our employee and the customer.  That is just one facet of customer service.  An often-overlooked component of keeping the customer happy doesn’t really involve the employee at all.

If you are offering a service such as an ATM, air and water machine, toilet, or lottery vending machine how these objects are managed deeply impacts your customer service.  There are very few things more frustrating than seeing a sign outside a business touting a service, making the decision to stop and going inside the building only to find that the service is not available due to a malfunction, out of stock, or for no reason – only the dreaded “out of order” sign.

The friendliest customer service person in the world is not going to make the situation better and, in fact, is going to become an apologist for the business – blaming the lack of service on someone else within the company or a vendor.

To maintain the highest level of customer service we have to make sure that we are providing the best efforts through both our human and non-human assets.  In the case of the equipment or facility that you own or control stay on top of preventive maintenance and have repairs made quickly.  If something isn’t working think of an alternative to provide to the customer (a discount on another product or a substitute service).  Be proactive with an answer as to why there is no service and how soon it will be fixed and not reactive.  But be honest and accurate.  You can’t keep saying that it will be fixed “tomorrow” for days on end.  As they say in football, “the best defense is a good offence”.

If the equipment or facility is owned or controlled by a vendor make sure that you have an agreement requiring the service to be put back into operation almost immediately.  This could either be a very short window for a repair call (which, if the service provider doesn’t fix it within the agreed time frame you can call out a repair person and charge the service provider) or the equipment is replaced with something else.

(This is a customer service themed blog but I should state the obvious.  Any service, machine, or facility that you have at your site should be a revenue generator.  If it isn’t working you are losing sales and losing money!)

Taking care of things quickly and being prepared for customer dissatisfaction are the best ways to hold onto your customer loyalty. It shows that you care and your customer appreciates it.