How To Provide Excellent Customer Service

In this dog-eat-dog world, the only businesses to survive will be the ones who are so big that they own everything in sight really care about their customers. It’s important to be in touch with your consumer base in order to go above and beyond the call of duty. Here’s how to really meet their needs.

1) Have a great website. The more flashy stuff, the better. Seriously. Things that flash, and lots of it. Customers appreciate a website with a little bling. Nothing like a seizure to make them forget about a rough day. They’ll thank you.

2) Provide a contact link. Customers like to be able to get in touch. Know what they also like? Easter egg hunts. Who doesn’t love an endless search for the prize? Be sure to hide that contact link in the least likely place you can think of. If you’re really committed to providing a good time, move the link every couple of weeks.

3) Know your customers. Like, really know them. On your contact form, request as much information possible. You never know when you might need to know the name of their mother-in-law’s best friend’s dog.

4) Address all complaints in a timely manner. In order to do so, don’t feel compelled to read their entire complaint. Every third word will do. After all, time is money. They’d rather you get back to them in a hurry with any answer than to have to actually wait for the right one. I’m pretty sure.

5) Timely, but not too timely. Don’t respond to email complaints immediately. It makes you seem needy. A waiting period of at least twelve hours sends the message that you are prompt, but not desperate.

6) Provide a detailed solution. The more complicated steps required, the better. The harder they have to work for it, the more appreciated the result will be. It’s especially effective if they’re required to restart their computer several times in order to read the instructions again. And if correcting their problem involves the use of a piece of equipment they don’t actually have, so much the better!

7) Find the cause of the issue quickly. By blaming them. When they feel like they’re the entire problem, you have empowered them to become the solution. And if you’re convincing enough, they’re less likely to sue you.

8 ) Always apologize for any inconvenience. Whether you mean it or not. After all, there is nothing worse than inconvenience. In the lesser-known eleventh plague of Egypt, God removed all the Redboxes and 7/11s. And horror filled the land. Inconvenience is the pits. Your customer is not screaming at you because the computer monitor you sold them set their hair on fire. They’re complaining because it will be a total pain in the behind to drive over to Wal-mart and buy makeup so they can draw their eyebrows back on. Apologize. Often.

9) Don’t live in the past.  Keep no records of your clients’ customer service history. If you have any questions, you can always ask them again. And again. And again.

10) Encourage two-way communication. By limiting your email responses to a single, incomplete sentence. People love cliff-hangers. They’ll send you back a reply almost instantly and be ready for a response from you, which you can supply. In twelve hours.

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Update: An excellent post on creating a user friendly website can be found here. No tongue in cheek, just really good advice.

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57 thoughts on “How To Provide Excellent Customer Service

  1. Awesome list. I also like websites that take 2-4 hours to load because of all the flash animation. That does not make me crazy at all. In fact, it makes me less crazy.

  2. I’m dying.

    It took over an hour to help my mother-in-law set up electric service. Why ask for information once when you can do it over and over.

    The guy also had a thick accent she couldn’t understand and one phrase he repeated over and over to be “soothing” – which made no sense in context 95% of the time.

    Thank you for this post. 🙂

  3. You have a real talent for jabbing a knife into the heart of a problem and making us roll over laughing. Thanks for the early morning pick-me-up.

  4. Sigh – alas there are so many people that most business don’t have to worry about consumer loyalty…

    Number 9 makes my head explode – great way to make something very frustrating – funny…

  5. This is sharply honed and cutting to the bone satirical brilliance! There are truths pithily scrawled all over this, that should not be true at all, but still are… The shell games, scams and cynically rampant insincerity needs to be exposed at every opportunity and you’ve done your part here in spades!

    You ever get that new computer without a color blind monitor? I sure hope so… and wondering if that experience was your muse to inspire these opened floodgates of just how NOT amused you’ve been about what they put you through with all that. All the same, you speak for ALL of us, and with an eloquent edge.

    • The one that makes me cringe rather than laugh is #7. Because I could actually see it in a manual somewhere.

      I am on my third computer in two weeks. I’ll let you know what happens!

      • Yeah… ole # seven. In interpersonal relationships, that’s called “transference” and is bad, bad, bad! But in customer service relationships it’s called a successful business strategy, and I’d bet the ranch that it’s written in lots of manuals in many places. It’s nothing but reverse BS and it makes me see some serious red whenever they wave that flag in front of me.

        I hope that when you let me know what happens, that you happen to be happy. Seriously. Enough is enough.

  6. I love the “don’t respond to this email. This is an automated response. Someone live will probably possibly get in touch with you in the near future, but don’t hold me to this. I’m only an automated response.”

      • oh I have replied. And it comes back saying “thank you for your comments. blahblah blah blah. not a real thing blah blah blah.” I take note of who responds well and of who doesn’t and it does make a difference with whom I will do business in the future. If that makes a difference. Little steps.

  7. And by all means, Let customers know in advance all the information they will need, so they can gather it together. Then when they within 90% finished with filling in all the boxes, ask for something else they would never have at hand. People LOVE surprises.

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