Friday, April 22, 2011

This is the Magic Bullet

Everyone wants the 'magic bullet'. Everyone wants to know the one thing they can do to increase business and revenue. Guess what...I have it - CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Let’s face it — the immediacy of the electronic world we live in has made us impatient for recognition. When we send an email, leave a voicemail, comment on a blog, tweet, text, post to Facebook or update our status on LinkedIn, we desire instant gratification. We want the person we intended to receive our message to acknowledge it with an answer to our comment, question, issue or concern immediately — if not sooner. 

Is this fair? No. Is it polite to be this impatient? No. But that doesn’t stop us from getting frustrated, aggravated and for some, downright ticked off that our voice is being ignored. Or is it? Are we actually being ignored or is the person on the receiving end just as busy and overworked as we are? Do they even have the answer to our question, resolution to our problem or response to our comment, or do they have to get that from someone else? Perhaps they are taking the time to formulate a well-thought-out response instead of firing back without thinking first, which is another issue we all seem to face. (But that’s a topic for a future blog post.) 

As the person waiting for the response, we need to take a moment to see things from the other person’s perspective. While the issue/comment/question/concern might be the most important thing we have to worry about right now, it probably isn’t the same for the person on the receiving end. 

With that being said, when we are the receiver we need to acknowledge the sender. That person has one main need — to be heard. While “satisfaction” might rank up there, initially they just want to know that they have been heard. If you work in a world where a committee decides everything and communication requires approval from several people, you still should respond to the sender. Temper the sender’s impatience with an acknowledgment — for example, “I received your message and will get back with you as soon as I have an answer.”

Consider how many sales and potential new customers are lost just because the customer feels they haven’t been heard. The most successful organizations have made communication and acknowledgement a cornerstone of their corporate culture. Take Zappos, for instance. This brand has thousands of loyal clients and customers, and everyone else wants to know the secret. It’s not magic — all they have really done is made the most fundamental of human needs a priority.

Great customer service doesn’t just make the retail world go round. Every organization, association, corporation — every person, for that matter — can benefit by acknowledging the need to be heard in their clients, customers and members. 

How do you make sure you are acknowledging your fellow humans?

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