What defines customer service? Does it mean the customer is always right? or does it mean the second someone complains you give them a refund so they go away?
I don't think either of those are accurate definitions customer service. To me, customer service means SO MUCH MORE! More than what you might think, and certainly more than what some companies may think. The term "customer service" is all too often defined as the customer always being right and associated with a quick and easy refund. In some cases, these options may suit the particular customer- but certainly not in most cases!
Customer service to me is an overall experience. An experience compiled of several stages that you as a customer go through in order to receive your product or service. It should not solely be defined as "a return policy" or simply an option if your product doesn't work. Those are both components to costumer service but certainly not where it begins and ends.
Let me explain! You contact a company inquiring about a product or service (or walk into their store). This is the first point of contact with the company, and where it all begins. How long does it take the company to respond to you? Do they respond in a courteous & professional manor? Do they take the time to thoroughly answer your questions? All important factors of customer service with JUST the initial point of contact alone. You haven't even bought your product or service yet!!
Ok, so an appropriate response time really depends on the type of business and the time of year in some cases are busier than others. We strive for 1-3 days response time, maximum 1 week if I have to research product pricing. But bottom line, you as a customer wants to feel a priority! The part about courteous, professional and answering all your questions DOES NOT depend on the type of business. If you are not satisfied with your initial first impression of a company-move on! What makes you think it will get better from here?! This is why there are competitive business in each industry- to give you a CHOICE!
So, you get all your answers, quickly, professionally and thoroughly- CHECK! The company has passed the first check-point. You go ahead and purchase the product/service. How was the purchasing experience? Did they match the right products/service to fit what you were looking for? Did you feel rushed? Were they happy to help you? Did they make you feel confident & excited about your purchase?
We've all experienced the type of customer service where the sales person is so eager to move onto the next sale. Also, we've all encountered that employee who is just counting the minutes until lunch so they can pass you along to the next employee. Of course bad days happen to even the best of the best of us, but if your rubbing your bad day off on your customers, just keep in mind a competitor would be happy to take that customer off your hands for you! If you feel great about your purchase, and they matched the product/service to what you were asking for, felt comfortable & confident then CHECK the second customer service check point!
This is where you hopefully get to go home & enjoy your new product or service you received! You should be glowing & raving to all your friends about the quality of service and recommend the company to all your friends! The end!
Not always though...And this is where it can get tricky! Everyone's return/satisfaction policy is SO different depending on their company values & types of business'. This doesn't always mean they can exchange a product or give a full refund no questions asked like Walmart (doesn't everyone love their return policy though?!). The one thing that all business' SHOULD do is work WITH you to come to a resolution. This is where it is important as a customer to vent your frustration in an acceptable manor. Kicking, screaming or swearing generally will get you no where. Which is not what you want. You want to get somewhere right?
Explain what happened. Did you just 'not like it' or did it not live up to what was advertised? Did you have buyers budget remorse or did you genuinely not like it? Did you accidentally damage it or was it actually a faulty product? All very important points to consider when explaining your situation. The more you are able to put it into perspective for the person dealing with your situation the more likely they will provide you with the same service they would hope to receive if they were in your shoes. Companies don't "have" to do anything at this point- it's up to them. There's no law stipulating their obligations to you. So be nice! A good company will have a "policy" but will be willing to stretch it based on individual circumstances. That being said, you may need to escalate a situation in order to reach someone who has that authority. Don't expect a front line employee to risk their job to break the rules!
At the end of the day regardless of what the company is able to do or offer, did they handle the situation professionally with integrity? Were they as pleasant (if not more) to deal with as they were when they were eager to sell to you? Did they make you feel understood and appreciated? Did they take responsibility for their own mistakes in the situation? Did they make you feel comfortable & confident to do business with them again? Check point number three CHECKED!
As a business owner and a consumer, I get to see both sides to customer service! The side that we provide as a business and the kind I receive when I am the customer. It's not always pretty! I've experienced my fair share of AWFUL customer service when making my own purchases. But guess what? My bad experiences with other companies drive me to ensure I never come close to those experiences in my own business. I actually use my business as a type of 'customer service' therapy if you will, meaning I am dedicated to ensuring every point of contact throughout your customer service experience is checked...And checked well! Even if you don't order our products or services for whatever reason (budget, don't have the product your looking for etc...), I need you to feel like your valued, cared for and that our customer service at least exceeded your expectations until you return to our business at a later date!
Though you may not be our only customer, or only wedding/event cake booked that day...I really hope we can make you FEEL that way!