- You'll have to talk to my supervisor.
- I don't know, but I'll find out.
- Let me see if I can find someone who can help you with that . . .
- and so forth.
What the client hears in these situations is, "I'm not paid to care."
The other worst phrase is some variation of "That's our policy." That just leads the client to think your policy is stupid. Unless it serves them, clients don't care what your policies are. These kinds of legalisms just frustrate people.
What can you do?
I love Simon Sinek's book Start with Why. One of the points he makes there is that employees can do their jobs better if they understand why things are the way they are. Why do we do this? Why does my job include X? Why does his job include Y? Why do we get paid in advance? Why do technicians need to track their time? Why do we sign contracts?
When employees understand why their job exists and why your company policies exist, it goes a long way to giving better customer service.
It IS Your Job!
My pet peeve in customer service is that I am always willing to pay a little extra - and I somehow think that means I should get service included in the deal. When I have a bad customer service experience, a key component is usually the fact that I'm working with a company I've given a great deal of money to.
Ask your friends who work in retail customer service what they think when a customer says, "I've spent a lot of money with you."
You'll here answers like this:
- I don't know how much money you've given us.
- I'm not the boss.
- I'm not the owner.
- To me you're just another customer.
In other words, they don't care. It's literally not their job to care how much money you've given the company.
But they SHOULD care for a very simple reason: If a customer has a great experience, they'll come back. If they think they're treated poorly, they won't come back. So if it matters to the customer that they've spent a lot of money, it should matter to the customer service rep.
In big corporations, people at the top worry about customer loyalty, repeat business, and client retention. The lower you go, the less people care. At some point, you pass a threshold where employees no longer care about those things. You can tell because of the language they use. When employees start using rules and regulations to argue against making the customer happy, they don't care whether the customer's happy!
It is every employee's job to care about every customer.
Yes, customers can be abusive and unreasonable. But 95-99% of the time customers are very reasonable. They just want to pay their money and get good service.
From the client's perspective, the more times they've done business with a company, the more they expect to have a positive interaction. They have literally entered a "relationship" in which every interaction reinforces their belief that this is a good relationship.
The client might express that as "I've spent a lot of money," or "I've been coming here for years," or something similar. Those are phrases that suggest the client believes they've invested in a relationship. In return, your employee should show appreciation and work to continue that relationship.
In small companies, there is no excuse for a disconnect on this. Owners and managers should care about client retention. But so should every employee at every level. In fact, small businesses have it easier, because employees should always be able to escalate directly to the service manager or owner. Clients love that. It's why small businesses love small businesses!
How do your employees react when they can't give the client something? Is it what you'd like it to be?