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Are You Inadvertently Neglecting Your Customers?

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Are You Inadvertently Neglecting Your Customers?

We are living in the Age of Instant Gratification. We have high expectations for immediate response to our queries and questions. We expect it ourselves from businesses we deal with, and our clients or customers expect It from us. The vast majority of businesses and business owners will say that they provide good or excellent customer service. But are we delivering?

Of course, I am generalising, and there are circumstances and businesses that we know are one-person bands or the type of business which we know will take a little longer than five minutes to respond to our emails or phone messages. But then there are other businesses where the silence is deafening. Over time and multiple delayed responses, we start to feel that we’re being neglected, no longer the important client or customer we thought we were. We may even consider whether the quality of the services or products provided is up to scratch given the poor service we’re receiving. At the very least we know we’re not that important to them or appreciated as much as we would have hoped.

Take a business I’ve been dealing with recently. There’s an active Facebook Group where the business owner and employees are actively engaged with the community. I’ve had a couple of admin type questions that I didn’t feel were appropriate to post in the community and so emailed them to the support email address. Crickets. Not a sound. Nothing. Nada. One email was sent two months ago, another with different questions ten days ago and no response to either of them. Now in fairness, I haven’t followed up on the first email. What I have now done is put a post in the Facebook Group asking whether anyone is reading the emails and hopefully now I will get some answers.

Another business that one of my clients has been dealing with has told me of five phone messages, and two emails over a 10-day period without a single response. The question was time sensitive and needed answering urgently. In the end, the client made a decision without obtaining the advice they had wanted. Hopefully, it was the right decision for them.

How do we combat this and survive?

Idea #1.

We’ve all been told that we shouldn’t have our emails open all day, that we should check them two or three times each day with time allocated to answer them and then shut it off again. And yet, how many of us actually do that?

Idea # 2.

Setting expectations will go a long way to eliminating the feelings of neglect. A colleague of mine has wording on his email signature along the lines that he checks his emails at a particular frequency and that if your query is urgent to send a text to his mobile phone and he will get back to you as quickly as he can. This does two things. Firstly, you know roughly when you can expect a response, and secondly, if it really is urgent you can access him more quickly. I’ve not asked, but I’m pretty sure that he rarely gets any text messages.

Where no parameters have been discussed or advised, the default expectation is an immediate if not same day response.

Idea # 3.

If your team is big enough, have a dedicated person to review and respond to emails as their primary role. Where they’re not able to answer the question, send a reply acknowledging the email and providing a time frame for when a reply will be forthcoming. This person is responsible for ensuring that the person who needs to reply does so within the agreed time frame.

Idea #4.

Make sure that your receptionist or people who answer the phones know what your availability is so that rather than simply taking a message they can advise that you will be returning phone calls at a particular time. Use the response to the incoming call as a means of setting expectations.

I’m no expert at this, but I do know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of poor service. Put yourself in your client or customers’ shoes and think about how you would feel if you were them. Then ask yourself what can you do within your business to improve the situation. Then let your clients or customers know what you’re putting in place. The key is to set expectations that you can deliver on. Certainty will eliminate the feelings of neglect.

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“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"



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