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Customer Service is About Keeping Your Promises

A promise 

I took one of those assessments that told me, based on the criteria, how I was wired. My score turned out to be really high on aspects that include respecting commitments and following through with promises.

After I saw the results, it took only a couple of moments of thought to come up with two root causes for my score:

1) My father taught me to be reliable.

2) When people or companies aren’t reliable with me, I feel tricked and disappointed, and my trust is vaporized. I don’t want to make people feel that way.

In other words, I really, really hate to break promises or fail to follow through with my word.

I gave this trait more thought in regards to how service has changed in the past decade - how some things have gotten better through the efforts of all the customer experience warriors out there, and how some things have gotten worse. As a customer, too often I have to check and verify the following:

  • Did I get the discount to which I was entitled?
  • Did the confirmation for my membership get sent?
  • Did I receive the certificate for the course I completed?

When these items get checked off without my intervention, I make a mental note about the person or business – how they kept their promise and how they made me feel valued. When my standards aren’t met and I need to follow up, I will make note of that, as well. As a customer, nearly every choice I make is one of several options. When a person or business makes me expend my most valuable resource, my time, I will likely choose another person or business in the future. I also will likely share my experience with others, but I will not likely forget it happened.

From a customer experience perspective, there are always implications to our actions. Here are my suggestions for keeping our promises with our customers:

We need to answer the phone and chat in a reasonable amount of time.

How:

  • Solving this starts with building a solid staff demand plan. This is where art meets science. The forecast elements include call volume, average handle time, occupancy, shrinkage, day of week call distribution, and seasonal patterns.
  • Once the forecast is approved, actual staffing levels must match the forecasted staff. The staff must be scheduled appropriately to be ready to accept the calls when they arrive.
  • Finally, the forecast assumptions need to align with what actually happens.
  • Analyze the results and start the process again – lather, rinse, repeat.

We need to keep promises and meet expectations.

How:

  • Craft end-to-end processes, identifying gaps and risks, and mitigating them.
  • Set reasonable expectations during the customer service experience.
  • Build checks and balances, hire the right people, and automate processes to ensure service is delivered as promised.

We need to take ownership when we fall short.

How:

  • Be prepared to personally own the apology without blaming someone else, or the company. To your customers, you are the company.
  • If possible and appropriate, explain what happened to create the problem, what you are doing to fix it, and what is being done to prevent it from happening again.

How we treat others is a key to building trust in relationships. It is true in and out of business and worthy of our mindfulness. Let’s keep our promises and make this the decade of impeccable customer experience.