Be a Good Customer

“Why do we see so many “How to be great at giving customer service” books? And no one writes about “How to actually get good service” – Adii Pienaar

The above quote lucidly explains that customer service works both ways – from company to customer and vice versa. What does it take to be a good customer and do our poor experiences as customers arise from the fact that we are not being good customers? Possibly! Think about it – a survey found that while 75% of the general population said they would share a negative experience with friends and family members, only 42% said they would recommend a product or service they particularly like. As customers, people usually call the customer service help-desk or contact a company’s customer service team when they have a problem and are angry about it. How many times would a person connect with a company to tell them that they are doing a great job?  If customers want to get more out of customer service and make companies love to serve them, would it not be great if customers give good feedback as often as a bad one. Very often customers believe that the company does not care and get down to the business of sharing their ‘horrifying’ experiences with their friends and contacts.

Everyone in business knows that customers have several options from which to choose. Companies too are more alert to their needs because of rising competition. The tolerance and acceptability of faults and delays is now much lower and it is highly improbable that customers stop to think about the problems and stress under which the customer service representatives work. Crunched staff numbers, larger customer base, newer technology that takes time to understand and other such reasons contribute to highly stressful working conditions for the customer facing staff. As a customer investing in a company you would probably think that these are not reasons for you to be concerned, but in order to be a good customer and get more out of customer service, it probably is time to look at these factors.

Each of us has been a customer at some point and being able to ‘lord it over’ someone gives us a sense of power that is intoxicating. Being a good customer is about being fair – about refraining from being harsh and rude and stopping before writing dreadful and potentially detrimental reviews on social media sites and other places for all to see. To be a good customer means to understand that there is a real person on the other side receiving these complaints and that one negative comment could make that person’s life all the more stressful. This is worse if your comments are simply out of spite for the company and a simple call could have sorted things out.

All people who are customers are paying for the products and services offered by a company. However, to be a good customer, it is crucial to remember that being disrespectful, mean and arrogant is not justified under any circumstance. This behaviour will not get you closer to gaining the maximum benefit out of customer service. We understand that some companies are still successful despite poor customer service. This is either because of customer need or due to other reasons. However, customer service should have a two-pronged approach and it is important to be a good customer especially because this is probably one of the most overlooked and unacknowledged ideas.

To be a good customer means that you understand how customer service works. When writing or connecting with the company ensure that you state your problem or question with as much clarity as possible. Vague and confusing statements and questions will elicit more questions and queries from the customer service team, which often irritates a customer. The fact is that no one can answer a question or query if they do not understand the question. In a previous exposition, we spoke about asking the right questions from the company’s viewpoint – this is however true also from a customer’s perspective. Be a good customer – ask the right questions and be clear and precise.

It is human nature to vent our anger and frustration on another without even thinking about it. Poor customer behaviour resounds with this attitude and to be a good customer, it is highly recommended to cool off before calling a company with a problem. This does not mean that as a customer you should not make your frustration apparent – it only means that being angry and overly critical is not the solution. You would be speaking with another person and it stands to reason and common courtesy that even that person deserves to fair treatment.

Be a good customer by patiently explaining the exact nature of the problem. Your tone would indicate displeasure but ensure that you provide all the details of the problem before expecting active listening. You could also help the customer service person by sending pictures or screenshots of the problem, as these help to elucidate the problem lending clarity. With enough information, the customer service staff will be better equipped to help you.

There could be times when a new product or service raises a number of questions in the mind of the customer. Rather than expecting customer service staff to be ‘mind readers’ it would be best to optimize the customer service due to you by putting down the questions clearly. If despite your efforts as the customer, the company does not provide good customer service, you then know that it is time to leave and would have every reason to let others know about the poor experience.

As customers, we have come to expect and believe that customer service should be automatic and as easy as flicking a switch to turn the light on. To be a good customer means to understand the customer service staff are human too and would have their limitations and shortcomings. Even at the very best level of customer service, there could be times when the ‘automatic’ responses expected as a customer are not available. It would behove you to be mindful of this and seek to speak with the customer service person instead of ‘at’ them.

In customer service, which is a fragile subject, even as customers there is a right and wrong way of approaching things and situations. To start with, use the most easily accessible and frequently used channel of communication and the one that you prefer the most. Use simple language and specify everything clearly. This will allow a more agile and effective response. Your communiqué could display frustration with product and the situation it may have landed you into – however, in no way must the communication shower frustration and anger on the person dealing with it.

To be a good customer, remember that customer service staff have enough on their plate and are as interested in sorting out problems as a customer is in having it resolved. They do realize that it is their job to keep their customers happy and they are not purposefully trying to upset or frazzle you. In doing so, they would be heaping trouble on themselves, gaining a poor reputation and jeopardizing the company that pays their wages.

Customer service is all about the approach and viewpoints – of the customer and the company’s representatives. Companies exist because of their customers and it is hugely problematic for them to lose a customer – so be a good customer and remember that they want you to be happy. This two-way approach is what will gain success for both parties and foster stronger and longer lasting relationships.

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