The One Key to Excellent Customer Service

I once wrote that the two things every company must have to survive are ethics and excellent customer service. I stand by that statement. An unethical company may grow, it may even have great successes, but eventually… Remember Eron?

Customer service should be as obvious. If people do not like you they will not purchase your goods or services. Granted that is not a very earth-shattering statement. Nevertheless, it is amazing to me how many employers do not properly train their staff to understand the one key to a successful customer relationship, which is what customer service is all about.

For many years I used LogMeIn to connect from my home computer to my office computer so I could work from home. It was free and it was convenient. Then, one day, I received an e-mail from them introducing their new cloud service, Cubby. If memory serves, the introductory rate they were offering was around $50. Seeing that I had utilized their remote access product free for years, I figured it was time to join the cloud and they had earned my business. So I signed up.

The price doubled after a year, but it was still reasonable and the service was, and is, excellent. A couple of weeks ago my subscription expired. I received an e-mail stating that they had tried to renew it but it had failed to go through. The credit card information was wrong. So I went to my LogMeIn account, updated the information and paid. I then called their Customer Service Department and confirmed that the payment had gone through and that I would not be charged again. The lady I spoke with confirmed that there would be no additional charge.

A few days later I checked my credit card account and, sure enough, I had been charged a second time. Here’s the thing: I had made a mistake. I had signed into LogMeIn and not Cubby, so I purchased the wrong service. I had paid for LogMeIn; the additional charge was for Cubby.

I called Customer Service, explained the issue and, even though it was my mistake, they cancelled my LogMeIn subscription and account (so I would not be charged again) and kept the Cubby account active. I could immediately see on my account that I had received a full refund. There was no discussion. There was no debate. There were no recriminations. There was only excellent customer service.

Around the same time, I made a purchase on Amazon. It was to be delivered by UPS. I have never had a problem with UPS and would like to believe that what happened was an anomaly.

The package was supposed to be delivered on a Monday. It was, but I was not home. I called to reschedule and was told that it would automatically be delivered, at no charge, the next day or Wednesday (if I was not home Tuesday). I explained that neither day would work for me and I was charged $6 for a Thursday delivery. I waited all day. At around 7:00 PM the truck arrived to deliver packages to my neighbors but there was no package for me.

I called UPS. The Customer Service representative said she had no explanation and would have someone from the local depot call me. He called ten minutes later. (I have his name, but why mention it? A mention on the Internet never goes away…) I was, needless to say, not very happy. While he admitted they had made a mistake, his solution was for me to come to the depot and pick the package (a 50 pound package!) up myself.

My response was that I had paid to have the package delivered that day and I wanted it delivered. “I paid and you promised,” I told him. His response was, “I didn’t promise anything.”

I then told him he should take responsibility and have pride in his company. He should put the box in his car and deliver it to me.

I honestly believe he did not understand. He could not fathom taking responsibility for a colleague’s mistake. It was quite clear that there was no point in continuing the conversation. All I could do was to reschedule the delivery.

(For the record, there are plenty examples of customer service departments or colleagues going above and beyond to rectify a wrong which was caused to a customer through no fault of their own. Putting a box in a car and taking a 10-minute drive is nothing in comparison to what other companies have done. And, to be fair and to give the entire story, my credit card has not been charged the $6 fee for rescheduling the delivery. The Billing Department said they would cancel it and seem to have done so.)

So what did the LogMeIn Customer Service rep do that the UPS gentleman did not? He took personal responsibility. And that’s the key to excellent customer service. It does not matter if the problem was caused by the customer (me, in the case of LogMeIn) or by a colleague (in the case of UPS). What matters is that you work for your employer and you should want your company to always be seen in a positive light. So take responsibility, if not for the actions of others at least for the reputation of your company.

            If you are in Manhattan on June 9, and would like to learn more about achieving excellence in customer service, attend Robert Allen’s presentation at Adelphi University, under the auspices of the Entrepreneurship Committee of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

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5 Simple Rules for Succeeding at Job Fairs

I have attended well over a dozen job fairs since I started my company five years ago. Every year I attend fewer and fewer. Now I am down to one. For me, they are a waste, because attendees do not know what to do. So let me give job seekers a few simple rules to make job fairs beneficial.

1)  First and foremost, set reasonable expectations. CEO positions are not presented at job fairs. Entry- and mid-level positions are what you will find. There will be scores, possibly hundreds, and maybe (for me it was a job fair for veterans) thousands of attendees. A meaningful conversation will not take place. The most that you can hope for is to receive an application form and drop off your resume (although most will want it e-mailed).

2)  Look like a professional. It boggles the mind how many people go to job fairs dressed like they are on their way to the mall. Dress like a professional. When you are at a job fair, you are marketing you! The way you market yourself tells an employer everything they need to know about how you will market them!

3)  Follow-up. Always take the business card of the person you meet. Always write on the back of it something they told you specifically about their company. If they asked you to e-mail them your resume, do it that day. When you send the resume, mention what they told you, what you wrote on the back of their card, so that they know you were listening and that you are not sending them a form e-mail.

4)  Build your network. Even if you are not interested in any of the positions they are promoting, that does not mean there are not others or that there won’t be others in the future. A job fair is a great way to build your network. Send an e-mail to every employer you meet. Thank them for taking the time to tell you about their company. Tell them you were interested in what they had to say and, as just mentioned, mention what they told you, what you wrote on the back of their card, so that they know you were listening and that you are not sending them a form e-mail. In this case, you want to ask for a 10-minute informational meeting to learn more about their company, industry or profession, as the case may be.

5) Practice your pitch. Lastly, even if the fair is a complete waste of time with no suitable jobs being promoted and no companies for which you would like to work attending, you can still make it worthwhile. Simply practice your pitch. Get used to explaining who you are and in what type of job you are interested. Practice really does make perfect. When you finally meet the right employer, with the right job, you will deliver your pitch with confidence. There is nothing more appealing to an employer than a confident candidate.