These past few weeks I’ve had my head in a cloud … Cloud Computing. Simply defined, cloud computing is using internet based services or software instead of single applications loaded on your computer’s desktop. My goal in using the Cloud is efficiency through interconnectivity. It means I won’t have to turn on one application for one specific thing and a second application for another specific task. They will all be interconnected.
Imagine connecting all of the complex tech and communication related tasks and devices in your life. I’ve learned about MS Outlook and Google Apps, how to integrate SalesForce with a speaker industry event calendar, eSpeaker’s eVentPRO, and even how to tie them together with an email management / daily calendar program with the option of using AJAX technology. Oh yeah, it needs to integrate with my Blackberry — and there is more! As a professional speaker who maintains a home office and a traveling road office (my MacBook portable computer / Blackberry) … my goal was to set up a system that would be equally effective when I’m traveling as when I’m at home. And I didn’t want to spend a lot of time transferring files and remembering to sync both systems. I wanted the syncing and integration to be automatic and seamless.
So how did I learn all of this? How did I manage to get this system up and running in a few weeks time? I worked hard by sticking my head in the cloud and doing good research, then used customer service personnel to fill in the information gaps. How did I manage to get outstanding telephone support from multiple different companies? It was easy! I was polite and appreciative.
Polite and appreciative behavior is apparently something customer service representatives don’t receive often enough. Where is the love? Of course my opinion is based on my limited personal experience but I have to believe it’s true. Over the past few weeks, I have been complimented by customer service reps who say things like, “I don’t mind helping you, I like helping people who are polite!” And, “I am happy to help you, I enjoy people who ask good questions and are working hard to solve their problem themselves!” So that begs the questions, Are people calling customer service and not being polite? Do people call without being prepared so that time is wasted? Do people take out their frustration on customer service reps leaving both parties emotionally worse off from the experience? Sadly, I suspect it happens all too often.
So here is my list of things you can do prior to and during a call to a customer service representative to achieve the best results.
- Do your homework. A quick Google search will yield almost any answer in seconds. Take the time before calling to learn the basics. This way, customer service reps will be able to help you with specifics and not waste time having to go over the basics.
- Provide context. Let the customer service rep know up front the specifics of your unique situation. What is it you’re trying to accomplish? Tell them in a concise way so they can better serve you and solve your specific problem.
- Listen. They are experts in their field. Listen to what they say, jot down terms or phrases that you may need to research more. Most importantly, listen for the clues they give towards solving your specific problem. Help them by giving feedback on the relevancy of their answer to your specific problem.
- Be polite and appreciative. Say Thank You. Be respectful of their time (see #1 & 2). Show appreciation. Thank them, AGAIN! Most important, if they don’t solve your problem, it’s OK to state that specifically and respectfully — thank them for their assistance. Ask if it’s OK to call again? This will buy time while you do more homework and allow you to make a future call.
I applied all of these techniques while working with support personnel in the tech world – an industry that can be notorious for poor service – and had fantastic results!
When you take on a new project there is a learning curve. The internet can reveal more content, information and answers than ever imagined and you can find it with any search engine. But after some preliminary research, you’ll need the help of experts, and those experts are human beings. The best tactic to make that human experience productive and pleasurable for both you and the customer service representative is to be polite. And remember, it’s not called Customer I’ll-Solve-Your-Problem-and-You-Don’t-Have-To-Work-Hard, it’s called Customer Service or Customer Support.
Next Blog Title: Perfection versus Good Enough
Next Blog Date: Thursday, December 17, 2010