Customer Service is made up of the small things

Poor Customer Service ImageI recently had a customer service interaction with a SaaS service provider that left me wanting.

With this provider, we had an issue that was effecting our ability to use their programming API to provide services to our clients at SentimenTrader. The issue wasn’t one that caused us any real heartburn and wasn’t a mission critical application, but this API failing caused a little bit of embarrassment (at least to me personally) because we couldn’t deliver the best service we could to our clients.

I’ve always been a big believer in service, specifically the fact that the ‘little things’ are the things that make (and break) customer service for any organization.

When I reached out to the service provider to determine what the issue was, I was told that ‘a bug exists effecting a number of clients, you included’.  I know what it means to develop large scale software and I understand that issues arise.  Where this provider fell down in their customer service capabilities was when I asked about a resolution to the ‘bug’.

The service representative’s response was “I don’t know. Check back once or twice a month to see if there’s been a fix.”

I don’t know about you, but telling a customer to ‘check back once or twice a month to see if there’s a fixed’ is an absolutely horrible way to thing to say to say to a paying customer.  Putting the onus on a customer to ‘check in’ on an issue sets the tone that the company doesn’t value the customer.

It’s a little thing. The customer service rep may not really have thought about what they said and/or how they said it, but it makes a huge difference in how I now view that company. When I heard that response, I immediately started thinking about replacing the service this company provides me. Here we have a company making a decent revenue from us, and they – within the span of 2 minutes of conversation – alienated a customer and pushed that customer into researching other options.

Interestingly, the bug that existed was fixed within 2 days of my conversation with the customer service rep, which was a pleasant surprise, but (isn’t there always a but?) the only way I found that it was fixed was to manually test out the service. There was no communication from the company to me to inform me the bug was fixed, which is yet another little thing that doesn’t take much effort to do. Good communication is one of the things that customer service teams should do well and is another one of those ‘little things’ that can turn average customer service into great customer service.

The ‘fix’ for this service issue doesn’t just stop with the service rep. There’s a whole host of process and systems issues that need to be addressed, with most of them being small changes. If the service rep had access to a system that gave them an estimate to fix, things might have gone better. If the service rep had insight into what the ‘fix’ process looked like, they may have been able to provide a better response.

Customer service starts with little things. It doesn’t take a lot of money, fancy software platforms and expensive teams to do well. If you start small and train reps to be customer focused and communicate well, you’ll go a long way to creating pretty good service for your clients.

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