I’m a big believer in both giving and receiving respect in my family, in my office environment, and when I conduct business. Let me give you an example.
When I contact a company, I have a legitimate question, concern or need. I expect you, the company, to respect that. Not every company is Zappos or the Ritz (though every company should strive to get the glowing customer satisfaction ratings those two do), but every company can at least follow the basics below.
One way to show me, your customer, respect, is to resolve my issue or question quickly. You don’t even always have to get actively involved. You can provide an easily accessible FAQ on your website or ensure your site is clear and easy to follow. I also like it when companies automate at least part of their systems, whether via website options, handy apps, an interactive voice response (IVR) system, or another mechanism.
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This type of automation allows me to resolve my questions quickly by providing me with some basic options without a lot of needless conversation. If I want to know your hours of operation, the location of a branch of your store, or my current bank account balance, I’d rather work with an automated system. It’s quick and easy, and as a mother of four young children, I need all the quick and easy I can get.
To me, it’s a sign of disrespect if your automated system is garbled, makes it too challenging to find what I need, breaks down during sales or other heavy usage times, or encounters glitches for some other reason. Want to know how I really feel about that? Check out Customer Service Automation: Do It Right!
Give Me an Agent
Obviously there are times when my requirements go beyond the basics and I need to talk to an actual human being. I am a fairly easygoing person – if you have four kids and you aren’t easygoing, you’re in trouble. Unless I’m paying a fee to be a platinum member, I don’t require wine or candy (though should you happen to be handing out dark chocolate, I won’t complain). That said, I do expect a minimum of respect.
If I need to speak to an agent, she should never look down on me or act impatient or tell me there’s nothing she can do. I should to be listened to and understood. If there’s a technical issue that’s blocking that understanding, I need the company involved to get on it – and quickly. And in an ideal situation, I’d like to see a company discover that kind of issue before I do. That’s the ultimate sign of customer respect.
I recognize that not every question can resolved immediately, though many can. I’m OK with that as long as I know that you’re really hearing what I’m saying and making your best effort to close out the call in a manner that’s satisfactory to both parties. And if I call back later to follow up, I assume the agent I speak with will have my information ready and easily accessible, so I don’t have to repeat the entire story.
If You Respect Me, I’ll Respect You
Don’t think I’m ungrateful. I have an active social media presence and I let my network know when I’ve had a great customer experience. After all, I think everyone who treats others with respects deserves a modicum of respect in return, whether they are companies, customers, or otherwise.