Everyone has bad customer service experiences and often our initial reaction is to give the customer service representative a piece of our mind before taking our business elsewhere. It makes us feel good and we feel justified in doing it. But where does it really get us? More often than not, with an unsolved problem and a place on the business’ mental blacklist.
As someone with experience from the other side of the counter I can tell you that this type of behavior is not the way to get what you want. That's right, we customers need to take more responsibility for the service we receive.
Here are some simple ways you can improve the customer service you receive…
1. Be Polite
The notion of ‘the customer is always right’ is often used as an excuse to talk down to assistants. However, the best way to receive good service is to be a good customer and this includes speaking in a kind and friendly manner. It’s the Golden Rule all over again.
2. Be Patient
Peak times can be hectic and stressful for customer service staff. Don’t increase the tension by complaining or demonstrating negative body language (keep the sighs and foot tapping to a minimum) while waiting to be served. This only leads to a flustered and defensive staff member.
3. Compliment the product/service
A little compliment goes a long way. Speaking positively about products and/or services, provides assistants with knowledge of what you like, may lead to special offers on similar items and increases rapport. For example ‘I’ll have the mushroom risotto, it’s my favourite!’ or, ‘I got so many compliments on my new hair colour, thank you!’
4. Be prepared
The clearer an idea you have of what you want, the easier it will be for assistants to help you. Or if you are returning something, make sure you have all necessary paperwork, receipts etc. ready for the cashier. If you're getting a new kitchen designed, show them pictures of styles you like and the list of 'must haves' for your kitchen.
5. Specify a budget
Don’t be afraid to tell assistants how much you are willing to spend.
6. Help them do their job
When the waiter comes to your rowdy table to take orders, help them out by taking control of the situation – get the group's attention, suggest some entrees to share and get them started with taking the individual orders. Later, when you're wanting a variation on your meal or asking to split the bill, they're likely to be much more accomodating.
7. Throw out a challenge
Rather than demanding or even expecting something be done, throw out a challenge to the service provider. Everyone loves to impress so make it easy for them to shine. For example, instead of saying "I don't have the receipt but I need to return this", try something like "I know it's probably not possible, but I just thought I'd ask in case there was anything you could do. I bought this last week and I've now realised that its not suitable. I'm not sure if there's anything you could do?" The first approach is likely to get a "sorry, but our policy is…", whereas the second approach might get, "lets see – well, I can see its our price sticker here and we do carry these…"
8. Seek a solution
If there is a problem, ask for or suggest possible solutions rather than getting worked up over the problem. For example, “Excuse me, the water pipes that were installed last week in my kitchen are leaking. Are you able to come around and see what the problem is sometime this week?”
9. Show appreciation
Sincerely thank service providers for their help and 9/10 they will remember you and make a special effort to assist you next time. Empathise with difficulties staff may be facing. For example, "I'm so sorry about our different orders – we're probably the most difficult table you've had all day".
10. Give feedback
Businesses love feedback that shows your appreciation of their customer service. This can either be given in person, through customer satisfaction forms, or online at review sites like WOMO. Try to be constructive rather than negative and if you had a good experience, sing their praises. There are few things a business loves more than a positive review. Remember, receiving good customer service starts with being a customer that people want to please. Put yourself in the employee’s shoes and treat each transaction as a reciprocal exchange.
Everyone wants V.I.P. treatment, but are you willing to do what it takes to earn it?