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5 Ways Your Support Doesn't...Either Your Customer or Your Small Business.

5 ways your customer support isn't working
Almost every entrepreneur or small business, at one time or another, trumpets that their service and support is what separates them from their competition; what makes them unique. But, too often, help desks don't help and customer support, doesn't.

Many entrepreneurs either miss obvious flaws in their delivery or worse, "shoot themselves in the foot," while delivering that service and support. Even the best of intentions aren't a match for well-planned and well-focused execution.
And it not only damages the company's reputation but, sometimes, creates a morale issue, internally. This happens when people out on the front lines know they're not delivering on the promise, whether because of inadequate training, insufficient resources or, worse, a crappy product.

Here are five key indicators that just maybe, your support isn't working and what to do if you suffer from any of them:

Customer service is a function not a company-wide "state of mind."

This is where it starts. If customer service is simply a function within your company - basically, the people responsible for dealing with the "problems," it doesn't matter if you have any other indicators - you're in trouble! The commitment to customer service and support has to start at the top of the company and become a company-wide "state of mind." It should start with a philosophy of "the customer pays our salaries," and go from there. One of the best examples of this company-wide, start-at-the-top "state of mind" is from Zappo's, the renowned Internet retailer, where CEO Tony Hsieh describes, "We've aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible. Internally, we call this our WOW philosophy." A worthy goal for any company!

A customer needs "a court order" to interact with a real person!

What's the first impression a prospect or customer gets of your company when they call you?

A metallic voice telling them to listen carefully (there will be a test, later) because "our options have changed," and then goes through a litany of a half dozen choices, all of which will lead you to more metallic voice direction, or worse, voicemail.

And how about on your website? If they have a problem, is there an easy way to report it or a particular person to call about it? Or are special forms necessary to be filled out, with the promise that someone will get back to them(see next indicator)?

Outrageous promises, less than ordinary results.

There is nothing worse for losing customer confidence than overpromising and under delivering. Do you talk a good game, but play a mediocre one? Do you promise to respond to customer inquiries within a period of time, but never track it, and worse, rarely meet it? If you're going to promise anything, do you know if you CAN deliver on that pledge? Second, how will you be sure that you are? Sometimes, it's better to produce average results, consistently, than to produce fantastic results, sporadically. Once you have consistency and a way to track it, now you have the basis to improve.

Acting like you care - repetitive problems, but no solution in sight.

This is probably the worst one because it frustrates customers most. Does your company give off all the appearances of caring about customer service by providing quick response and courteous dialogue, yet there are problems that have existed for weeks, if not months (or years), without a solution?

Maybe it's a resource problem, with too many product issues in the queue; or a knotty engineering one. Either way, a crappy product can't be covered over with a great customer response At the end of the day, customers want their problems solved, rather than have smoke blown at them.

All customers are created equal (because you don't know any better).

While an excellent idea, not practical. All customers are not equal. Some are responsible for a lot of business. Some are needier than others, and some have great potential.
And how would someone responding to a customer call know this? Well, if you don't have some kind of rudimentary customer relationship management (CRM) system and you're not logging calls in it, then they wouldn't.
Now, this doesn't mean you have to make some significant capital investment or contract for a sophisticated piece of software. Only that you have something, even an Excel spreadsheet where you keep track of some basic customer information and activity, so that whoever is dealing with a customer can address that particular customer's needs best.

Wanting to deliver or promising exceptional customer service and support is one thing; be able to execute on that desire or commitment is yet another. Be careful that your help desk helps, and that customer support does!

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things.  He's been there.  May success be with you!

What's been your experience either with your own or another vendor's customer service and support?  Please share your thoughts in your comments.  It can help another entrepreneur.

If you like this post, by all means, share it with your networks and colleagues.



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