The Importance Of Customer Service In Small Business

Yesterday I reflected on something that all businesses should.

Customer service.

Providing good customer service as a small business owner is one of the most important aspects when it comes to growing your business. In this day and age of the public being able to leave reviews on the web, you better have all your ground cover in the case you have to deal with a client or customer who leaves you a nasty one. In this post, I will give a “hypothetical” example of both good and bad customer service.

The issue that started it all

customer serviceCompany X asked Jane Doe to attend an appointment at Company Y.  Company Y required her to arrive early and fill out paperwork to confirm her identity and basic information. Upon submitting the completed paperwork, the employees on site were still missing information. When Jane Doe gave them the further information they requested, they still didn’t have all their ducks in a row. Regardless, Company Y continued on with the appointment.

Jane Doe wanted to be sure that Company X received all the information that Company Y was responsible for. Company X quickly got back to Jane Doe and said that they hadn’t heard from Company Y.

Concerned, Jane Doe contacted Company Y to see why Company X didn’t have the information yet.

Company X referred Jane Doe to Company Z. Company Z referred Jane Doe back to Company X. Then she was referred back to Company Y.

After a few rounds of phone calls and emails, Jane Doe found out that the private information that Company Y and Company Z had access to, was released to an unknown party. Not to company X who needed the information. Clearly upset, Jane Doe continued her calls to all three companies and continued to get passed around from representative to representative. Getting nowhere, Jane Doe’s blood began to boil and steam was coming out of her ears (some even say she popped a blood vessel or two). Shouting now, Jane Doe requested to speak with Company Z’s manager.

The rep said that Company Z’s manager was in a meeting. Jane Doe was at the point where she didn’t care and refused to get off the phone, tying up the lines and leaving other customers waiting. Company Z got the manager and Jane Doe found out they had all the incorrect information that they received from Company Y.

Jane Doe called Company Y and they hung up on her.

Concerned for the well-being of Jane Doe, Company X figured out that in order to resolve this issue, the correct action was for Company X to speak directly to Company Z. Now, direct contact could be made and not relayed through Jane Doe.

Jane Doe realized that this whole issue started back with Company Y. She called them again after she called down, and asked that she speak to the CEO. When she spoke to the CEO’s secretary, she promised to resolve this and have the relations manager call Jane Doe.

The good

Reviewing this “hypothetical” situation is bone chilling. The way Jane Doe’s private information was leaked and Company Z didn’t take that seriously is unacceptable business practice. It shouldn’t have taken all those phone calls, emails, and speaking to multiple employees in order to finally speak to the head of Company Y. The head of Company Y could not have been more apologetic and embarrassed at the way things were handled. No business owner should ever be embarrassed by their employees. Make sure you have rules and procedures in play so that when Jane Doe gets to the point of screaming, your employees know the right words to say and the right actions to take.

Company X handled things correctly. Company X was responsive, replying to emails within 30 minutes of receiving them. When things turned ugly, Company X knew when they needed to step in and handle things themselves.

The bad

Hanging up on a customer no matter how upset they are is completely unacceptable. Under no circumstance should you do that as a small business owner. That is a sure way to lose business and get a bad rep for yourself in your industry. When Jane Doe finally spoke to the head of Company Y, she learned that she wasn’t the first one to complain about Company Z. Company Z was disorganized and showed no responsibility for their actions. Jane Doe will never want to use either Company Y or Company Z again.

The ugly

Jane Doe was only taken seriously when she yelled and cursed at employees that she knows didn’t deserve it. That sort of attitude when trying to work with Company X, Y, and Z isn’t right. Jane Doe was in the wrong and she knows that, but it wasn’t until she got to that point that she was taken seriously. The issue got out of control and Jane Doe felt helpless as the appointment and her information was important. Her information was leaked. That sort of carelessness deserves special attention.

Company Z never took any action to apologize for they way they handled the situation or for leaking her information. So, Jane Doe went a step further and reported them them to the higher ups. If the higher authorities agree with Jane Doe, Company Z could get a hefty fine.

Gee Whizz… Sucks to be Company Z.

Lesson?

Don’t ever mess with Jane Doe.

Treat her concerns as your number one priority. If you as a business owner made a mistake, you don’t hang up on Jane Doe. You don’t keep passing her around to admin to admin who has no authority to handle Jane Doe’s case. You talk to Jane Doe as soon as you can and make things right again. Even if you don’t agree with how Jane Doe spoke to you over the phone, you make things right.