COMMENTARY | I'm a small business owner in distribution, sales, and service. My customers make my business. It's important for my company to aid a customer in every manner possible. However, after 19 years in business, I recognize that receiving excellent service depends in part on responsible customers. Consider stepping up your responsibility to ensure an agreeable customer service experience.
Before Going Off on Someone…
Recently, a customer left me a lengthy and unpleasant message on the answering service at my office. The woman said she wasn't happy that she'd not received a callback from my company after two weeks, about something we were trying to help her with.
I knew my husband was handling this particular customer. I also know he's a hard-liner when it comes to customer service. When he leaves someone a message, he writes down the basics of the message he left, the date, and exact time.
I put in a call to my husband. He remembered the woman. A glance at the customer log book showed that he'd called the woman not once, but twice. Immediately, my husband phoned the customer. Long story short: he gave the woman the dates and times he called, adding that he did not get a response from her.
She apologized and noted her embarrassment. She explained that after she left the nasty message at my office, she discovered that her husband had taken the two calls from my company off their answering machine. It slipped his mind to tell his wife that my husband called her twice.
Before you call a company and launch into a tirade over the lack of communication, please check the answering machine. For added measure, ask anyone in the house if they heard a message directed to you from a particular company. It's common for people to delete a message without passing it on.
Help Us Help You
What I just mentioned above happens in my business all the time. In fact, another woman left a message after hours last night that baffles me. She apologized that she was returning our call three weeks later. After three weeks, I'm thinking the customer's problem wasn't as pressing as she led me to believe.
The woman said that she almost never checks the messages on her landline because she mainly uses her cell phone. The phone number she gave to my company was her landline, not a cell number. Go figure. If your cell phone is your key source of communication, be sure to provide that number-not a number you rarely bother with.
E-mail is a huge part of our daily business. Many customers prefer e-mail correspondence instead of phone communication. E-mail is OK with me. However, it only works to everyone's advantage if you check your e-mail.
At least 20 percent of the information I send via e-mail, at the customer's request, sits in their inbox unread. Eventually, I receive a phone call from most of these people lambasting me for poor customer service. I refer them to the e-mail I sent, and graciously inquire whether they still need my help. I guarantee that you'll have a better customer service experience if you take steps toward being a responsible customer.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a small business story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.
More from this contributor: