Customer Disservice & The Golden Rule

“We are experiencing a higher than normal level of call volume and wait times will be (way longer than you deserve) …”

Doesn’t it drive you up a wall to get a recorded message like that from some company’s customer disservice department. First of all, you know they’re lying. They aren’t experiencing a higher than normal level of calls. They’re just too cheap to hire an adequate number of staff. Most infuriating is when you get put on endless hold trying to resolve a problem that was caused by the business you’re calling.

A Wall Street Journal article from a few years ago sticks in my mind. Titled “Customer Service as a Growth Engine,” it described efforts by large organizations to pay “more attention to customer service in an effort to increase sales and gain market share in the economic recovery.” The Journal cited a survey of more than 1,400 companies that found more than a quarter saying customer service would be the prime target of increased funding once the economy improved.

To which I silently responded, Duh!

I wonder if it occurred to executives at all those companies surveyed that had they had paid more attention to customer service when the downturn hit, they might already be enjoying increased sales and market share. It’s a real simple concept. People like to do business with companies that make it easy to do business with them.

Customer service is not rocket science. Nor does it cost very much if anything at all. No matter what the business or its financial situation might be, every manager has the ability to instill top-notch customer service. It doesn’t require expensive tools and equipment, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time and money on training programs or consultants. Employees do not require any special skills or experience to master The Golden Rule – treat others as you would like to be treated.

A distributor of plumbing supplies once shared with me company research revealing what customers expected out of their salespeople. Three issues topped the list by a wide margin:

  • Be readily available.
  • Be eager to help and knowledgeable.
  • Be responsive. Return phone calls and respond to requests.

Isn’t this pretty much what customers want from any business?

We at Dutton Plumbing put a high priority on customer service both by office staff and our technicians in the field. That’s why when you call us you speak to a live human being. That’s why he or she will be eager to help and if he or she doesn’t know the answer, will quickly put you in touch with someone who does. All of us who work here are instructed over and over to be responsive to customer complaints and requests. If someone on our staff violates any of these principles, please let us know immediately.

In this season of goodwill, we believe it’s more important than ever to reflect on the Golden Rule. Have a great holiday season, and be sure to treat everyone you encounter the way you’d like to be treated.