Some thoughts on customer service…

A client just emailed me the sweetest note. I recently finished rewriting her resume for her, and she’s grateful to have something to show the world. In her email, she was very specific about one aspect of our experience together: I actually called her on the phone and spoke with her in person, at length, before beginning the project. She told me that every other resume writer she contacted refused to talk with her in person before starting the project.

My first reaction was, “Really?? How can someone write a good resume without getting to know the person whom they are writing it for?” I can’t understand how anyone can write a resume, or content, or marketing copy without getting to know the individual or business they are writing it for. But this is why we have templates, I suppose. Most resume writers have a set of templates (often found on the internet and not original) that they use to create resumes. So, the customer gets a normal, barely-adequate resume that says nothing about who they are.

So many times, you call a company to ask a question and you get lost in Voicemail Hell. Now, they’ve added a “personal” touch, where a nice-sounding robot lady talks with you – voice recognition makes you feel like you’re being listened to (or not, but that’s the goal). “Conversations” often go like this:

Robot Lady: “Hi! How can I help you today? Say your answer, please. ”

You: “Question about a bill.”

Robot lady: “I’m sorry. I don’t understand your question. Please say it again.”

You: “QUESTION. ABOUT. A. BILL.”

Robot lady: “I’m sorry. I don’t understand your question. Goodbye!” <<click>>

Nice try, folks. But maybe we wouldn’t need to spend the money and research to create a “personal” experience using complicated technology…if we actually paid someone to answer the phone. Seems like a whole lot of trouble to get something that would be a lot easier if we used real people: quality customer service.

I worked for a startup, and our customer base consisted of small local retailers. Most of the shop owners who used our site weren’t internet-savvy; they placed their trust in us to do the right thing. My job, in addition to taking pictures and writing content to promote their store on the site, was to act as a liason between the company and our clients. I could have used the phone, and in some cases, I could have used email to reach out to them. But, every day, I’d hop on the bus or drive to a neighborhood to spend the day visiting each customer in person to make sure they were happy. I have to say, it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

Our customers loved that. And several times, when they were on the edge of canceling our service due to budget constraints, they stayed on board simply because they liked the fact I took the time to speak to them in person.

Back in the old days, you would walk into a neighborhood shop or grocery store and everyone would know your name, what you bought last time, how your family’s doing. I think that people are longing for more connection with others, connections that go beyond a quick post on Facebook or a text message.

Customer service is becoming a lost art. I do believe there are some companies out there who still believe in quality service and getting to know their customers, however. Actually, there are probably a lot. But when we have a good customer experience, we need to let these companies know and get the word out so they can continue to thrive.

I would like to take a moment to mention some local businesses who have what I consider to be AMAZING customer service. These guys are all in my neighborhood:

Tigges Jewelers: A jeweler on Geary Blvd that’s been around since 1930. I came in to get my engagement ring resized and the guy recognized me from when I had come in for a repair a year before. How cool is that? And they do amazing work for a great price.

Geary Shoe Repair: Just great service. Quick turnaround, and unbeatable prices.

Blue Danube Coffeehouse: The guys who work there, Alberto and Ernesto, are some of the sweetest people I’ve met. They always turn on the heatlamp outside if they see me sitting there with my fiance. Great food too.

How about you? Feel free to post your thoughts, and give kudos to businesses who know how to deliver great service.

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