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Dropping the ball on customer service

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HOW MANY TIMES have you gone in for a doctor’s appointment and waited, and then waited some more? Or, waited for 20 minutes on a Service Advisor while she chitchats with a colleague. A potential employer may have kept you waiting for 45 minutes past a scheduled interview. If it seemed like poor customer service, it’s because it is. And it’s also an epidemic.

For whatever the reason, some companies simply drop the ball when it comes to providing consumers with solid customer service. Keeping customers waiting has become such a norm in our society that it is considered unusual not having to wait to be serviced. And, apologizing for keeping customers waiting is almost a thing of the past.

So, what’s the big deal about a customer waiting a few minutes past a scheduled appointment? It’s rude. It’s inconsiderate. “And it’s selfish. Being just a few minutes tardy sends a message that you value your own time more than a customer’s time. Or, a signal that you are not very well organized. Being a few minutes tardy can have a cascading effect on your customers’ day.”

In an article by Jeff Toister entitled “Are You Suffering From a Customer Service Time Crisis?”,

Toister said that customers perpetuate tardiness by letting people off the hook too easily. For example, what did you do the last time a service provider kept you waiting a few minutes? In all likelihood, when she smiled and said, “sorry to keep you waiting”, you smiled and said, “that’s okay.” Toister said that response accidentally give the service provider a free pass on tardiness. And you make it more likely for her to be tardy again.

Recently a participant walked into a presentation I was making 40 minutes late and was asked to leave. I was not prepared to repeat myself, but also felt that it was disrespectful to the others. The following week, I was scheduled to present to another group and was surprised to see her present and early.

We all lead busy lives. It is a cop out to use ‘being busy’ as the reason for poor customer service. A little better care of John Public may be the difference between retaining business and losing business.

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