Strong Front Line for Any Business
Every heard the phrase “you only have one chance to make a first impression” or “put your best foot forward”? I’ll assume so, otherwise they wouldn’t be cliques. These count in life and even more so in business. In life if you make a bad first impression that sucks, but you can overcome it by showing of your best features. As a company if you make a bad first impression the chances of getting a chance to make up for it are slim. More likely than not that costumer will never deal with you again. As in life, everything in business is centered around building strong relationships, and these relationships are a lot easier if started on a strong note.
I also realize customer service is not a high paying or overly desirable job. Therefore trying to get people to be excited about it is difficult, but please if you are going to place these people as your first point of contact try to make sure they do lose a sale before they even forward a customer to the right people.
In order to get this point across I am going to tell you about three customer service representatives I have dealt with recently. Alex, Mary, and Kyle. The bad, the awful, and the ‘I hope they’ve given you a raise by now’. To preface the first two I was working on a promotional idea of doing custom designed gas cards for an used car dealership. Incentives and increased brand impressions, all that good stuff. These two were the first impressions I had of companies that could gain a long term buyer from spending a decent amount of money. The last example is my experience with my cell phone carrier. Hopefully by the end it’ll be pretty clear what makes a great first impression and what makes me have zero desire to do business with you.
The first story comes from Alex, a representative from gas company A (I’m not gonna name the shitty ones because maybe I got a bad apple). Alex answered the phone like he was the most disinterested person in the world. I explained what I was looking for, and then two more times before we got on the same track. I was looking for cost for customized cards and Alex responds with “well it’s not really worth our time to do those”. “…IT’S NOT REALLY WORTH OUR TIME” are you serious Alex!? To start I am willing to pay you for a product you offer, if that isn’t worth your time. If making money isn’t worth your time. What the heck is? On a more important note I hadn’t even told Alex what company I was calling from. The dealership wasn’t huge by any means but it was still going to be spending a decent amount of money. Alex didn’t know this though, I could have been looking to spend a million dollars annually, but apparently that isn’t worth their time. Alex did have a saving grace though. When he realized I was looking to spend money with his company he forward me to someone actually in sales who did their best to save it but I was still mad that Alex thought it wasn’t worth their time.
Alex was bad. Alex was really bad. Then there’s Mary. I was about 90% sure that Mary was hammered when talking to me. That or she cared so little about her job that enunciating was out of the question. Moving past Mary’s slurred speech, Mary was useless, and unlike Alex who forwarded me to the appropriate contact when he realized he wasn’t helping, Mary kept on trying to no avail. Eventually, I had to ask to be forwarded to someone in sale. Apparently this offended Mary because I received a combination grunt/”please hold” before being put on hold for a while. You would think that was it. Sadly, you’re wrong. I finally got connected with someone in “sales”. She proceeded to answer all my questions with “that can be found on the website”. No it can’t by the way, I checked, that’s why I’m dealing with you. After explaining that the information was, in fact, not on the website she informed me that she would send me additional information, because apparently actually selling to me directly isn’t her job…wait, yes that is 100% her job. After about five minutes of trying to take down email we parted ways. Two days later I received said email and it was an HTML email of the website in which I already said there was no information. Needless to say I didn’t email her back.
The ‘I hope they’ve given you a raise by now’
Although this is unrelated to the gas cards, and the two horrible experiences above, this costumer service experience was a breath of fresh air. His name was Kyle, and he works for Virgin Mobile (Yeah I’ll give credit to the good guys because they deserve it). You know after a long winter when it finally gets to like 5 degrees and it is great and you’re walking around in a t-shirt? (Canadian thing). Well Kyle was that great warm day after dealing with the two above. The thing is Kyle didn’t really do anything extraordinary. What he did was his job, and he was enthusiastic about it. He answered all my questions and made me feel like he legitimately cared about me as a customer. You’d think doing your job wouldn’t be that big of deal but in a world of Alexs and Marys it’s nice to see a company make a great first impression making myself, as the customer, actually want to do business with them.
Moral of the story? Be a Kyle, not an Alex or Mary. Neither Alex not Mary got or will get my business and I fully intend to keep with Virgin and Kyle.
Thanks for reading,