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Category:Customer Service

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Management 114/MGT 114

This page is a compilation of information for a college Management 114 Course (Customer Service)

Some colleges may classify Customer Service by a different course number!

Contents

Internal and external customers

Internal customers are an organization's customers that are part of the organization itself; external customers are an organization's customers that are not part of the organization itself. An employee (such as a cashier) is an example of an internal customer; a person shopping for shoes is an example of an external customer.

External customers are the reason an organization is in operation; they are the primary recipients of most forms of customer service. Internal customers are the individuals utilized by an organization to assist in its operations; these individuals typically provide the bulk of customer service for external customers, and also become the source of most external customers' impressions about the quality of an organization's customer service. In addition, internal customers also participate in a form of customer service between themselves and the organization itself.

External distractions to listening effectiveness

External distractions (such as telephones, background music, coworkers, other customers, office machines, and other background noise) can distract us or impair us when listening to those who wish to communicate with us, and can become a barrier to listening effectiveness. To reduce the effects of this barrier, an individual can politely suggest moving to a more suitable place, avoid directing attention to anyone or anything else other than the person with whom they are communicating, or (when communicating by telephone) cover one's other ear and close one's eyes. Additionally, corporate management can help to facilitate listening effectiveness by introducing cubicle partitions, installing sound absorption panels to reduce excess noise, and reconfiguring floorspace to be more customer-oriented.


Chronic Complainers

Timm (2008) mentions that chronic complainers always want to blame someone else, “never admit any degree of fault or responsibility,” “have strong ideas about what others should do,” and often complain for extended periods of time without even stopping to catch their breath. When dealing with a chronic complainer, he recommends (a) listening to the customer attentively to see if there is a legitimate reason underlying the customer’s incessant complaining; (b) “establish[ing] the facts” and requiring the customer to give specific facts and figures, rather than letting the customer continue to use vague and exaggerated claims; (c) refraining from apologizing, which, though very helpful for use with most customers, will only empower chronic complainers; and (d) force the chronic complainer to find a solution to the issue (Timm, 2008, pp. 152-153).

References

Timm, P. R. (2008). Customer service: career success through customer loyalty. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Projecting a company's culture

Timm (2008) mentions several factors that can project a company’s culture; three of these were (a) the company’s appearance and grooming; (b) its way of involving its customers; and (c) its care about its customers after a sale (Timm, 2008, pp. 33, 37, 39-40).

Cleanliness and organization projects a company’s culture as being professional and dependable. A good example of this would be cleaning the floors and organizing the workstations. Additionally, a lack of cleanliness and organization can also give an impression of unprofessionalism and incompetence.

The way a company gets its customers involved can not only encourage customer loyalty, but also sometimes project an environment of trustworthiness. Having a customer test drive a car involves the individual in the sales process, and also gives the customer a feel for the car and an assurance of the car’s dependability. In contrast, offering samples of food products provides customers with the additional feeling of received value, and gives the impression of generosity.

A company’s care about its customers after a sale can project the sense that a company cares about its customers as individuals. Asking customers how they are enjoying their products gives the sense of extended service, and also assists in finding and resolving potential customer dissatisfaction early. It also serves to keep customers in contact with the company in case they may want to make another purchase in the future.

References

Timm, P. R. (2008). Customer service: career success through customer loyalty. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.


Contacting companies by email

Email is incomparably faster and less expensive than postal mail. Additionally, it is usually a better medium for communicating lengthy technical information than the telephone. Moreover, not only can email be utilized for communicating with speakers of another language by utilizing services such as Google Translate, but it is also often a better mode of communication when communicating with someone who has an accent or speaks English as a second language. Finally, it gives the flexibility to send and receive messages anywhere in the world at any time of the day or night.

About five weeks ago, I had received a shipment from a book reseller through Amazon.com, and one of the books was different from the one I ordered. After going to Amazon.com’s website to see how to proceed with returning the item, I found that I had the option of either calling customer service or emailing customer service. I selected the option of emailing customer service, only to see a notice that it would take up to twenty-four hours for a response. Since I certainly did not want to wait that long, I went back and called customer service instead. The response time was within thirty seconds, the representative handled the return authorization very well, and, although would have preferred timely email service instead, I was still very satisfied with the customer service I received.

Behavior

From Timm (2008) it can be deduced that behavior consists of the physical actions performed and the words spoken by individuals at a given time (p. 24). Words serve as the primary basis of communication among civilized human beings, and are an important component of behavior because they give an immediate impression and are interpreted much more quickly and easily than mere nonverbal “language.” Positive words are very effective in helping create a friendly environment quickly, and using them can be considered one of the best methods for welcoming and complimenting others. On the other hand, negative words can almost instantly create a hostile environment, particularly by arguing, ridiculing, and disagreeing with others.

References

Timm, P. R. (2008). Customer service: career success through customer loyalty. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Feedback

This case reinforces several ideas in the chapter. First, it highlights the fact that we naturally try to avoid negative feedback, but should instead use it to find how we can improve. Second, listening to feedback often motivates us to fix problems, which gives customers a better impression of us and gets the customers who gave the feedback involved in the dynamics of the organization. Third, it helps us find ways to make ourselves better than our competitors. We often receive negative “feedback” from coaches that tell us what we are doing wrong or what we need to improve; we can apply negative customer feedback in the same way, and use it to improve our customer service skills and techniques.


Characteristics common to good listeners

It could be considered that showing external signs that one is listening and accepting of the person to whom one is listening is the most important listening characteristic in a customer service organization, as it makes customers feel that we are listening to them and that we care about their input.

Company culture in a customer-focused business environment

A company’s culture will affect its success because the type of environment it creates will be felt by its customers, which will then affect customer satisfaction and loyalty. If a company creates an environment of mutual respect, its employees will often treat its customers with respect. On the other hand, if a company treats its employees poorly, its employees will probably treat its customers poorly also. If a company fosters an environment of friendliness and fun, its employees will also convey this into their encounters with customers. If a company is cold and unappreciative, its employees will often become cold and unappreciative toward customers.

Resolving problems to create loyal customers

Customers who have had their problems addressed and rectified become more loyal because their expectations are usually met or exceeded merely by getting their problems rectified. By resolving the issues, the company shows that it cares, which makes customers trust the company more, as they realize they can expect similar caring concern in the case of a future problem. Additionally, the resulting customer loyalty that occurs through a resolved problem can also be motivated indirectly by the personal interaction of the customers in the dynamics of the company, which gives them a feeling of a closer relationship with the company and more of a sense that they are recognized as individuals.

Gatekeepers

Gatekeepers add another step to the process of contacting a person, may disregard something based on their opinion of its priority, and present the possibility of misinterpreting a message when they relay it. An organization can minimize the number of gatekeepers by creating more efficient procedures for directing information, by empowering other employees to make the decisions necessary to resolve customer issues at a lower level, and by creating a predetermined policy of what situations should be directly referred to top-level management.

Self-centeredness and self-protection

Self-centeredness in listening is being so focused on one’s own agenda that one does not actually listen to what the other person is saying. This is pretty common in sales, where a salesman tries to sell someone something the person does not really want. Self-protection in listening is anticipating what might be spoken beforehand and preparing responses before one has listened to what another has to say. Although this may sometimes be a beneficial technique when dealing with aggressive non-customers, it usually impairs our listening abilities because we have already formulated a response to what we think others might say, which often causes us to pay less attention to detail since we think we already know what they are describing. This is quite common in the area of technical support, where a representative will often give an answer to a preconceived idea of what the problem is, and inadvertently block out and not listen to what the customer says is actually wrong.

Assertive and aggressive behavior

Aggressive behavior seeks the advancement of oneself at the expense of everyone else. In contrast, assertive behavior looks out for one’s own interests but is also respectful of the interests of others and tries to create win-win situations.

The "value proposition"

The value proposition is the predetermined ratio between goods or services and the prices at which they are marketed; it could also be described as the difference between what something is worth and how much it costs. When defining a value proposition (or setting prices) there are several things one should evaluate: the current value propositions of the competition, the ability to make a comparable value proposition while still making a profit, the specific process(es) and quantities to be used in the formation of this value proposition, and the way in which this value proposition will stand out from those of the competition. Value propositions are primarily created by a company’s top level management, although other employees may slightly affect their implementation.

Good listening skills in customer service

Practicing good listening skills makes the customer more likely to sincerely feel that we care, and can also help us identify the causes of customer issues more readily without jumping to false conclusions or frustrating the customer.

Written communication

We can apply the principle of speaking positively, and try to avoid using negative language. Rather than saying, “Do not enter,” we can say, “Please use other door.” Likewise, we can display, “We accept Visa and MasterCard,” rather than posting, “We do not accept Discover.”

The share-of-the-customer strategy

This means focusing on increasing the percentage an existing customer buys from them rather than from their competitors. Strategies for getting a larger “share of the customer” are usually more profitable than conventional methods that merely try to get a larger market share by seeking new customers; additionally, the strategies used to accomplish this will also contribute to customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth.

Social and demographic changes impacting customer service

The Internet will continue having an impact on customer service, as more businesses and customers will continue to discover the advantages the Internet offers and begin using it, leading to a further reduction in face-to-face service and greater need for efficiency. Additionally, ethnic minorities will continue to become a larger share of the market, and there will be many opportunities for businesses that cater to the languages and tastes of these groups. Established consumers, on the other hand, will consistently become smarter customers, which will create greater expectations for value, price transparency, timeliness, reliability, and overall customer service.

Customer turn-offs

The three types of customer turnoffs are value turnoffs, systems turnoffs, and people turnoffs. Value turnoffs occur when customers get turned off by the cost of a product, such as when customers do not believe the value of a product or service is worth the cost of it, or when the customers find an alternative with better value. Systems turnoffs occur when customers dislike the techniques and methods that a company uses when running its business, such as the location of the building or annoying company policies. People turnoffs occur when customers dislike the traits or actions of employees, such as when they ignore customers or treat customers with disrespect.

CAA (counter-attitudinal advocacy)

A good example of counter-attitudinal advocacy would be a situation where a customer is complaining about the quality of service received when one does not see anything wrong with it. A person can try mentally arguing the point from the other direction, and seeing if one can find a way to “prove” that it was indeed unsuitable. By doing this, one can see for oneself what arguments can be created, and then evaluate these arguments to see if any of them have the capability of proving the other person’s point. In the event that the quality of service was indeed unsuitable, one becomes aware of this through one’s own reasoning. If one finds that the quality of service cannot be proven unsuitable, one can then explain the reasons why it should not be considered unsuitable in a way that reflects the other person’s perspective.

There are several key characteristics that can be identified in this process. One first must decide to try to look at the situation from the other person’s point of view and try to mentally form arguments in the other’s favor. Next, one must temporarily restrain oneself from forming arguments to the contrary, and also avoid interjecting anything to the contrary while the other person is speaking. After this, one should try to form an understanding of the other person’s perspective and restate it. If one’s understanding of the other’s perspective is not right, one must then ask additional questions to help gain a better understanding of the other person’s perspective.

Phone Communication

Phone communication has several advantages over face-to-face communication. First, it is more convenient for customers, and enables people to communicate with one another without needing to be together at the same place. Second, it is typically more cost-effective for companies who utilize it, as telephone response service operations typically require less overhead than face-to-face operations, and give companies the ability to expand service area coverage with little additional investment. Third, communication in this manner can occur through telecommuting, which can save time and money for both employers and employees. Fourth, telephone communication, when used in conjunction with answering machines and voice mail, can be done asynchronously. Finally, it can also be safer for all parties involved than face-to-face conversation, particularly if one is dealing with hazardous work conditions or a dangerous “customer.”

On the other hand, phone conversation does have its shortcomings when compared with face-to-face communication. On the phone, you have no nonverbal cues by which to understand a person’s true attitude. Moreover, a customer has fewer traits to compare and assess when forming an impression of a service representative. Customers generally also expect faster service on the phone than in face-to-face conversation. Additionally, it is harder to recognize and remember individuals, as one cannot see the other person’s face. If the reception is bad or a person does not know how to use a phone properly, it can be much more difficult to hear the other person than in face-to-face conversation. Finally, if a service representative goes to take care of something, a customer cannot see what the person is doing and may be more likely to get impatient than if they were both in a face-to-face environment.

Intrinsic and extrinsic value

Intrinsic value (Timm, 2008) is the perceived value of the product or service itself, whereas extrinsic value is something extra that makes the product or service have perceived value beyond what the product or service’s value would be merely by itself. Examples of intrinsic value would be Microsoft Windows capability on a cell phone, the low tire pressure monitors on certain Chevrolet car models, and fiberglass handles for yard tools. Examples of extrinsic value would be using disposable seat and floor mat coverings at automotive repair facilities, offering discounts to customers that bring their own grocery bags, and providing complementary paint stirring sticks with paint purchases.

References

Timm, P. R. (2008). Customer service: career success through customer loyalty. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.


Customer disputes

What is most important is that we continue to exhibit excellent customer service during this time, and try to work for a good understanding of the issue and an appropriate resolution of it (Timm, 2008). It is oftentimes time-consuming and frustrating to determine whether the customer is wrong, the company itself is wrong, or whether neither or both of them are wrong. Rather than attempting to assign blame, it is much better and proactive to focus instead on the issue itself and fix it. This will satisfy the customer, and, if it was the company’s fault, will not result in the serious consequences to its reputation that could happen if it tried to first assign blame elsewhere.

References

Timm, P. R. (2008). Customer service: career success through customer loyalty. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Being open to feedback

Organizations can become more open to feedback by creating systems to make it easier for customers to provide feedback, by showing acceptance of a customer’s complaints and not showing hostility toward customers filing complaints, and by developing an organizational attitude that complaints are tips for identifying what they can do to make themselves more successful. To help employees be open to feedback, it may be helpful to provide them with training in conflict resolution, courtesy, and self-improvement. I would explain to my employees that feedback is like coaching; sometimes we cringe when we get it, but, if we learn to use the information we receive about ourselves in feedback to improve ourselves, we can become much more successful at work and in everything else we do in life.

Fairness in resolving customer complaints

Customers expect fairness when they have a complaint; Swartzlander (2004) mentions that this fairness usually entails appropriate compensation of some form for both the situation itself and the inconvenience caused, fair procedures that are timely and do not attempt to lay blame on the customer, and respectful and courteous treatment of the complaining customer by management and employees (pp. 268-269).

A good example of this fairness would be an experience my mother had with a car service facility. After she had her vehicle serviced, the vehicle began making strange noises from the engine compartment. She had the vehicle towed back to the facility, and she explained the situation with it. The facility promptly offered her the use of their loaner car while they checked the car, ensured that all the belts in the engine compartment were tightened properly, and performed several extra unrelated minor repairs without charge as a form of compensation for the inconvenience. They took responsibility for the situation immediately, and treated her respectfully throughout the entire process.

References

Swartzlander, A. (2004). Serving internal and external customers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Systems providing exceptional customer service

Swartzlander (2004) mentions that there are four traits an organization’s systems should have in order to provide exceptional customer service. First, an organization’s systems need to be customer-oriented to give the impression of an environment of true customer service; an example of this would be Amazon.com’s focus on a customer’s quick and efficient checkout, where, unlike many other companies, its display of additional product offerings do not increase the time it takes for a customer to complete a purchase. Second, an organization’s systems should be effective and function properly when they are needed to ensure that customers remain satisfied with the organization’s competency; an example would be Lowe’s operational backup generators that enabled them to continue doing business during the power outage of August 2003. Flexible systems are a third characteristic of exceptional customer service systems and enable an organization to respond to unusual or abnormal circumstances; a good example of this would be Home Depot, which sets generous standards for their return policies, but also empowers employees to decline them if they believe that certain individuals are attempting to cheat the company. Finally, systems must be cost-effective in order for them to be sustainable and profitable (pp. 27-30); an example of this would be Costco’s shorter refund policy term on electronics that depreciate in value with time.

References

Swartzlander, A. (2004). Serving internal and external customers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Defusing unpleasantness

Although one may not have caused the problems that others are experiencing, unhappy individuals will typically experience dissatisfaction more easily and more readily than calm or happy individuals. Additionally, once customers are no longer in an unpleasant mood, they are more likely to tolerate any trivial shortcomings one may have. Moreover, if customers are in a pleasant mood, they will be more likely to also be pleasant with an employee, which can help make a person’s job much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Characteristics of exceptional customer service systems

Exceptional customer service systems are (a) customer-oriented, which means that they are designed with the primary focus of serving the customer, rather than the primary focus of serving the company at the customer’s expense; (b) effective, which means they are reliable, and function properly and as planned; (c) flexible, which means they can adapt to peculiar circumstances and unusual situations; and (d) cost-effective, which means that the cost of implementing these customer service systems is financially viable and will result in profitable gains when compared against the expenses of operating in this manner.

Exceptional customer service strategy

An exceptional customer service strategy is a well-planned and executable business strategy designed by a company’s management that offers products or services for sale to consumers in a way that provides exceptional value to the customer, meets the financial expectations of the company’s management, and conforms to the company’s goals, mission, and values.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to the understanding and ability one has regarding the existence and control of one’s emotions and the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence can be beneficial in the working environment, as we can use it to identify when we are emotionally charged in certain directions, to help us keep our emotions under control in stressful circumstances, to identify when others are being controlled by their emotions rather than their intelligence, and to help us select techniques for dealing with emotionally charged customers.

Phone communication in customer service

Phone communication has several advantages in customer service, namely, that it can be used in asynchronous communication through the use of answering machines and voice mail, that it is much more convenient and enables communication without requiring individuals to be together at the same place, and that it gives individuals a measure of safety by not requiring individuals to be near irate or dangerous individuals while communicating with them. On the other hand, phone communication suffers from a lack of nonverbal communication, a reduced sense of familiarity and closeness, and the susceptibility to difficult and strained communication due to poor connections.

Recovering the potentially lost customer

The steps in recovering the potentially lost customer are (a) making oneself aware of the misery the customer has experienced and empathizing with them, such as through listening and apologizing; (b) resolving the problem, and trying to fix the situation to the best of one’s ability; and (c) offering “symbolic atonement” for the inconvenience, such as coupons, gift cards, or the reimbursement of expenses associated with the problem.

Human relations principles and written communication

We can apply several human relations principles in our written communication. People have a preference for receiver-centered communication, so we can communicate in a way that makes people feel we are focused on them personally, rather than ourselves. Next, people prefer receiving information in a positive manner, so we should refrain from using negative language, and try to express ourselves in an upbeat and positive manner instead. Additionally, no one likes listening to abrasive individuals, so it is best to avoid giving any impression of hostility, irritability, or annoyance. Finally, people like being treated as unique individuals, so we can try to show that we understand the uniqueness of each individual with whom we are communicating, such as through the use of the person’s name or by the usage of singular personal pronouns.

Assertive versus aggressive behavior

There are several differences between assertive and aggressive behavior. Assertive behavior is not threatening to others, while aggressive behavior is very intimidating. Moreover, manipulation and harassment are not components of assertive behavior, whereas they are frequently utilized in the context of aggressive behavior. Finally, the objective of assertive behavior is to seek a positive outcome for oneself while also acknowledging the needs of others, unlike the exclusively self-seeking objectives of aggressive behavior which are pursued at the expense of others.

Angry and dissatisfied customers

A dissatisfied customer is not satisfied with the experience the person has had with the company, and may or may not express this dissatisfaction openly. An angry customer, on the other hand, not is not only an openly dissatisfied customer, but is also frequently a hostile, infuriated, and sometimes aggressive customer. Swartzlander (2004) mentions that we should first listen to the angry customer, and let the customer vent while the customer explains the situation. After the customer has finished speaking, we should empathize with the customer, apologize for the inconvenience, and assure the customer that we personally will try to resolve this situation. After ensuring that we have made ourselves aware of all the necessary facts, we should try to resolve the situation to the best of our ability. After the resolution of the situation, we should also contact the customer shortly thereafter to ensure the customer is satisfied and to foster positive feelings about the company again (pp. 234-237).

References

Swartzlander, A. (2004). Serving internal and external customers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Exceeding customer expectations with speed and convenience

There are three ways to exceed customer expectations with regard to speed and convenience: make it faster, make it seem faster, and enable customers to do something else while they are waiting. One can make it faster by allocating employees more efficiently and by improving the company’s systems so that the process is faster. One can also make it seem faster by providing something to the customers while they wait, or by creating an estimate of the wait’s duration, after which the company then exceeds this estimate. Finally, one can enable customers to do something else while waiting by giving accurate estimates of the waiting periods so that customers can engage in other pursuits during the wait, or by utilizing systems that contact the customer once the wait is over.

More...

The increase in customer service at banks could be a combination of two factors. In a sense, bank tellers "compete" with electronic banking, so the employees themselves are probably taking an active interest in improving customer service to protect their jobs. If banks themselves are fueling the drive for customer service, this emphasis for customer service is probably primarily due to the fact that a successful bank can literally become a troubled bank overnight, which can cause it to lose its customer trust and eventually be seized by the FDIC. Providing friendly and heart-felt customer service may possibly be seen as one of the best strategies to avoid this fate, as it builds customer trust and helps retain current customers.


Procter & Gamble has indeed added Spanish instructions to their Tide products, but I did not see anything multilingual on the Kellogg's boxes in my house. Which products are you describing? S. C. Johnson & Son has also added Spanish labeling to their products, and Gordon Food Service (a wholesale food company in Michigan) has ensured that the majority of their private label items have information in both English and Spanish. Not only does this technique gain global acceptance, but it also gains customers who either do not speak English or speak English as a second language.


The typical lunch break is thirty minutes. A person going to eat at a typical pizzeria must: call and order the pizza, wash their hands, punch out on the time clock, exit the building and get in the car, start the car, drive to the pizzeria, get out of the car, pay for the pizza, wait an extra five or ten minutes for the pizza, get back into the car with the pizza, drive back to work, eat the pizza, exit the car, lock the car, reenter the building, punch back in on the time clock, and wash their oily hands before returning to work. Seven or eight minutes can be critical in determining whether or not a customer has time to purchase from your restaurant; by utilizing the Hot N' Ready and setting up a drive through, Little Caesar's places itself on equal terms with the local fast food restaurant. As for people being on the go, people are trying to get a lot more done than they did years ago. Although some people may be trying to do too many things at once, improving our service times still gets us more business nonetheless!


You can use a pretended tape recording to take care of annoying or threatening individuals. You can mention something to an obnoxious person about recording the conversation, then make a beep sound; watch them change their attitude! You can also remember that the next time you deal with someone that you cannot stand. When possible, taking actual written and audio records, getting papers notarized, etc., can also be used to ensure a person behaves!


At a Motel 6 in Warren, Michigan, the hotel manager would ask guests if they wanted to receive a wakeup call in the morning. Not having packed an alarm clock, it sounded like a good idea. The phone rang in the morning, and upon answering it one received a recording with the first two lines of “Happy Birthday,” followed by a recording of the hotel manager who jokingly admits he knows it is probably not one’s birthday but that he wants to make it a special time anyhow.


One thing a friend recommended is to try to get your "General Education Requirements" done first, such as Composition, Algebra, and Introduction to Windows. After that, you can take the broader courses that can apply to multiple fields, and save your specialized courses for last. (Of course, this only applies if you take all your courses online and they are available all the time; if you are at a ground campus, you have to factor in a rotation schedule.) Additionally, you might want to look at taking certain courses for the first two years so you can get an Associate's Degree while you are in the process of pursuing a higher degree; this gives you a feeling of success, and also ensures that you have a degree of some sort in case your plans change and you cannot finish all four years of study immediately.


Once when the family was out of town, we picked up some Little Debbie’s brownies from a Hostess store. After arriving back home, we started eating them, but something did not taste right. It was not worth going back to the place from which the brownies had been purchased, but the box had a toll-free number on the side of the box, so we called it. After explaining the taste issue and providing the production code information, the service representative asked how much the brownies had cost us, but my mother explained that we did not need a refund since we had already eaten most of the brownies, but we wanted to inform them about the matter and ensure that there was not some issue with the brownies of which we might be unaware. A few days later, we received a letter from Little Debbie’s; they had sent us a coupon for another set of brownies anyways.


A daycare center came up with all sorts of amazing things for the kids. They would take the kids to local businesses and organizations to get tours, visit the different parks in the town with them, and get them involved in many different science and art projects.


Email is definitely a much better tool when working with chronic complainers. When I take the role of a customer, I also like using email when resolving issues. There is a webhosting company I use that gives the options of either calling by phone or using a LiveChat (basically instant messaging). The LiveChat works a lot better for me, in my opinion, as I can give detailed explanations of the errors or alarms I get without having to repeat it verbally several times.


Circuit City kept their records for years, which worked out very well, considering that I would get two or four year protection plans on everything. All I had to do was give them my phone number. Menards (a home improvement store similar to Home Depot) also does that; I think the way they work for refunds is that they have a kiosk where you look up your receipt based on your credit card number and can then get a refund, rather than a store credit.


Certain places also send friendly reminders of how long I have been away or when I might need to see them next. The ones that come to mind most are dentists and Chrysler dealerships. These reminders work out very well and are advantageous for all parties involved; they help me remember to go there if I forgot, and they are a way of attracting repeat customers.


Probably the only difference in repurchase is that the dissatisfied customer may eventually be won back by performing overall improvement to a company without contacting the customer, whereas an angry customer is more likely to come complain to the company, which gives the company the opportunity to resolve the situation.


When I wrote manuals, I usually began with basic procedures, elaborated on them as best I could, printed it, and updated and improved it when I had the opportunity. For my manuals, I used the "ready, fire, aim" strategy to get them into use. I might not have everything in the manual, but at least I have something rather than nothing for employees to reference.


Fax machines with ink film will keep a negative of all printed documents on the ink roll! Additionally, if you have a fax machine with the ink film, it is best to shred the ink roll when you are done with it, rather than merely discard it; a lot of confidential information and numbers can be impressed on it and they are typically very visible.


A lot of banks use a single "checkout" line, and it works out rather well. It is a first come, first served basis when it is done that way, and everyone thinks that is fair. Getting in the wrong lane can often create additional customer frustration, especially if the person in front of you takes forever!


I personally prefer companies that train their employees right and include the full wage of the employee in the operating cost of the company. Although it "might" make employees better the other way, I would consider it a quite stressful situation for employees to not know how much one might have at the end of the day. Moreover, trying to judge what would be an appropriate tip is not my favorite analytical activity!


Usually I like to compare the different models and have some idea of what I want before a salesman finds me. Even when I do want to speak with someone, I want a person who has some knowledge of the product, and I really appreciate when they know the advantages and disadvantages of different models. I do not need someone to "sell" me an appliance; if I had not already basically "sold" myself the idea of getting one I would not even be there in the first place!


One of the things I learned in Lean Manufacturing was that the first step in making a company "lean" is to eradicate the environment of fear. If employees are always fearing that they might get into trouble or get terminated due to minor blunders or situations that might not be their fault, they will certainly not want feedback systems at all. (The other evil that must be avoided, however, is letting bad employees remain on the job!)


Even if I understood the value of customer service training for employees under my supervision, I know I would not be able to justify $1000/hr to the company ownership! In that case, I would have to find some less expensive way to do it. Maybe I would just buy a couple of the textbooks from Timm and have the employees pass them around!


Although I used Amazon, I did not think about Amazon much until I noticed how often they were used as a positive example in my textbooks! The same applied to Southwest Airlines.


I guess that phone feedback could be more manageable for larger companies than cards, and could automatically compile data rather than needing to pay someone to sort through a lot of cards. Additionally, it is probably more manageable for companies with larger feedback volumes. What is most important, however, is that a company uses the feedback it gets!


My mother originally started using Amazon a couple years ago, and when I needed to buy my textbooks it came in very handy. I have not used PayPhrase or the Prime Membership either (I do not order enough from there to warrant them "yet"), but I am very pleased with the experience I have had overall. I had ordered a book from an Amazon reseller for my PSY 101 class, and the reseller erroneously shipped the eighth edition, although I had ordered the ninth edition. I contacted Amazon, and they had me return it to one of their warehouses. I received a refund within a couple days.


Comment cards will be as effective as a company wants to make them. If the company actually reads the cards and seriously tries to fix its service based on the feedback it gets, it will probably do almost as well as if it used multiple systems, and will do better than a company that has multiple systems but is not very serious about fixing situations. Comment cards do not require a lot of initial capital or programming expertise; however, they are also a lot easier to throw away.


One other bonus to the feedback via email or a website is that it makes it less stressful for customers to do it, as they do not have to worry about someone verbally yelling at them or arguing with them, and, in some cases, can help ensure anonymity.


I guess there should also be a way of highlighting positive feedback, such as posting it on the bulletin board.


It is typically more difficult to get workers for second and third shifts than for first shift. One employer I knew paid twenty-five cents extra per hour for second shift, and fifty cents an hour extra for third shift. Another employer paid an extra dollar an hour for nightshift workers. Even with these incentives, many employees still preferred to work on dayshift. Moreover, many others wanted to move to dayshift, but could not because there were not enough openings on dayshift.


Even though I worked on dayshift, I worked so many hours that I often could only contact other companies during "funny hours" too. Another interesting use was that the management of the company where I worked would email each other anything that contained any technical information or any information that could have repercussions on the employee if the other person had not been duly noted of it. If there was a rejection from the Ford plant, all associated personnel received the email. If a production schedule had to experience an unusual modification, all associated personnel received the email. If a project absolutely had to be completed by a certain date, all associated personnel received the email. The email served as a very handy permanent message system which one could use to prove that one had notified someone else if the need ever arose.


I have started to hear more about people who discontinue their land line phone service and use their cell phones instead. I am not quite sure what the emergency capabilities are for a cellphone when compared to a land line.


The peculiar thing I remember about that August 2003 power outage was that you could call other people land line to land line, but the phone would not ring! I believe the phone I used at the time was digital, however, so I do not know whether the older styles of phones were also acting in the same way or continued to function as normal.


My steel-toe work boots received a lot of rough treatment due to the peculiar situations they had to experience. My boots were constantly crawling in machines, treading over sharp metal shavings, getting slices from sharp metal fixtures, and getting dowsed with coolant chemicals. I usually got my boots from Walmart for thirty dollars, and they lasted six months. My coworkers would buy boots for eighty dollars, do only half as much boot-eating work as I did, and get them to last for only nine months. In that application, it was better for me to buy cheap shoes and replace them more often.


How is the writer's portion of an option's price considered extrinsic value according to the customer service textbook? Although it might have that definition in the realm of finance, "extrinsic value" for a stock option in the realm of customer service would more likely be the fancy folder one receives from the investment firm that contains the paperwork for the options in my opinion.


The situation where people fill in the "dead air" is pretty common (and I have a very bad habit of filling in "dead air"), but my understanding of the negotiation process you mentioned above is that it is a negotiation strategy used while trying to thwart price transparency, right? If so, my mother has sometimes had to deal with companies like that. When she would have me help with her purchasing, I always hated companies that did that. Normally I only bothered trying to buy from them if I had reason to believe that they actually had a better deal (such as if they were an actual manufacturer or a supplying wholesaler of one of our current suppliers). Otherwise, I expected that I would be able to know up front what the price would be, either in the catalog or on their website. In cases where the price could be somewhat variable due to market fluctuations or customization, I did not expect a firm price immediately, but I still expected a relatively accurate estimate. A company's mere claim that it "had the best price" or "would ensure I got the best deal" never meant anything to me (unless it was a company with which I had already done business multiple times and that I knew was trustworthy), and often made me suspicious of their honesty.


Sometimes I have also noticed that if one lets a person just continue talking without inciting the person (or asks questions nicely), the person will eventually deplete the stock of statements one can use while complaining, and will either calm down or become silent due to a lack of things to say. Moreover, I have noticed (and experienced) occasions where two people complain to each other about a situation, and both of them also will eventually deplete the stock of statements they can use while complaining, and will either calm down or become silent due to a lack of things to say. On the other hand, if a person expresses disagreement with someone who is complaining, it can easily escalate into a miserable situation.


Before I started college, I was working from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. during the week. If I had not been able to use the phone and email to contact the college while I was getting enrolled, I would not have been able to get enrolled. It worked out very well that they could leave messages on my cell phone so that I could call back while I was on break. We had some form of "phone tag" at different times, but when we left detailed messages for one another and answered each other's questions in the messages we were still able to progress fairly quickly in getting me enrolled.


Considering how many times a person needs to ask for a supervisor to get things resolved, it seems like companies would just get the point that they need to empower and train their employees better, or at least give their employees better resources to use for responding to customer calls! Unless there is a large disparity between the salaries of call center representatives and supervisors, it would seem less expensive to just have the supervisors answer the phones, rather than pay both of them to listen to the conversation.


Although it is not as personable, I often find it is best to refrain from directing brain power to thoughts of what the other person might be like when I am talking on the phone.


Even if they are yelling over the phone more than they do in person, I would prefer getting yelled at over the phone. There is no physical intimidation, and no imminent physical danger.


I was saying that, if she was not a receptionist, but was hired instead for the purpose of room service, the restaurant, or other similar services, she would probably not need to use the phone with customers. As for working as both a receptionist and hotel restaurant employee at the same time, I must admit that I have not seen it yet. I have seen multiple occasions, however, where the receptionists also set up and stock the continental breakfasts at some moderately-sized motels and inns, and I have yet to find anything unsatisfactory with that arrangement.


At least they had a training video! On the other hand, though, a company would do well to also have handouts and posted reminders for its employees. The benefit of also complementing the training video with these other two techniques would be to have a reference for employees if they were unsure about the appropriate protocol, and also ensure that minor forgetfulness is less likely to happen.


Most motels where I have stayed have one or two workers in the office, and they usually also handle reservation and room calls. I guess it could be arranged differently at some locations. Additionally, if one was involved in room service, the restaurant, or other similar services, rather than being involved as a receptionist, one might not deal with anyone over the phone.


Normally I will not even accept to buy anything over the phone unless I initiate and direct the conversation. When I want something, I look it up online or in a catalog and then call to place my order. There are a few times when I might take a service that is offered (such as some protection plans), but it is because I would have opted for that anyhow.


When it comes to signing up for automatic bill payment, if it was only a matter of saving money, it might not be worth it. On the other hand, when you calculate the amount of time it takes to read the bill, write the check, put it in the envelope, affix the stamp, and take it to the post office, you basically save the same amount of time that you spent. If you consider the risk of dealing with a late or lost payment, the savings are even greater! I guess I am surprised that a company would not make it easy for a customer to change over to the system they would like customers to use!


It is getting common for E-pay, E-deposit, and E-statement options to offer incentives. I can save $100 a year from my lot rent by using E-pay, a person can get special banking incentives if one uses Direct Deposit, and I believe Verizon offers a $10 bonus if one changes to paperless statements.


Although we did not use Ebay much at the company where I worked, about 50% of our orders with tooling and supply companies were placed online. Additionally, the suppliers my employer used had websites, so I could browse their products when I was back at home (I often did my own research of machinery when I was off-duty, and used it to built my understanding of the industry's techniques and processes). The other really nice thing about online ordering (rather than ordering over the phone) was that it was much less likely that the wrong product would get shipped!


One funny thing about customer service expectations is that people accept a longer delay with email than with a phone call. If we have to wait half an hour for a response to a phone message, we wonder if anyone checks the answering machine; if we get an email response within half an hour, we think the company is amazing!


Even if it is a dirty job or a casual job, you can still have some form of professionalism. For instance, you can make sure you choose something that looks tasteful and does not look shabby. When I started at my first job (rubber injection plant), I wore a white and blue checkered shirt I had. It was not anything spectacular, but (in my opinion) I looked like a professional industrial worker who was ready to work and fit for the job. I arrived at my job, and the other employees were asking me how I ended up at this job rather than at an office building, because I looked a lot better than most of the other employees. I still had the same shirt when I started my most recent job; some of the my coworkers thought I was an engineer at first, not an operator. It made a good impression and, coupled with my determination to work hard, made everyone think I was a spectacular employee.


Mitsubishi has a quick way of filtering out which suppliers might be suitable for producing their parts: they check the bathrooms. Their principle is that, if you cannot keep control of your restrooms, you cannot be trusted to take care of your product quality either.

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