The Cardinal Rules of Customer Service

By Nancy Friedman

Here are the Telephone Doctor's “Six Cardinal Rules of Customer Service.”  Any one of these tips will enhance your customer service reputation.

1. People before paperwork: How many times have you stood and waited while someone tallied up a batch of figures or counted a pile of money? Then, only after they were done were you asked, “Now, how can I help you?”  How many times have you waited while someone “fiddled” with something or wrote up a note, before he or she acknowledged you? Paper can wait. People should not. Paper won’t walk away, but the customer might. Drop what you’re doing and pay immediate attention to the customer.

2. Don’t be too busy to be nice: In most interviews, managers and owners hear something like this from the applicant: “I love to be busy. If I’m not busy I get bored and unhappy.”  Then we hire them and one of the first things we hear is the complaint, “Wow, I am so busy.”  Well, being busy does not give you carte blanche to be rude. Let’s not be too busy to be nice. It’s not worth it.

3. Rushing threatens customers: Whether it’s on the telephone or in person, avoid rushing people. Make each experience a great one. Remember, one word answers make you sound cold and unfriendly. Slow down. Stop rushing people. It threatens them.

4. Don’t use military language on civilians: Simply put, company jargon should stay within your company. Mistakes and miscommunications thrive on company jargon. You’ll be far more familiar and comfortable with the terms and abbreviations than your customer will. Some companies seem to have words and abbreviations that would make the CIA green with envy. Use simple, easy to understand words with the customer. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

5. Be friendly before you know who it is: Have you ever been a customer and been treated in a rather average, maybe even below average, manner? Later, when they realized you were a friend of the boss or someone other than an “average” customer, they brightened up? Why wait to be friendly? Why discriminate? If you’re friendly before you know who it is, you’ll make a good impression. When you’re friendly before you know who it is, you’re delivering the same great service to everyone. That’s the way it should be. Don’t discriminate.

6. “There ya go,” is not “Thank you.”  “Uh huh,” is not “You’re welcome.”  Count for one day, how many times people forget to say, “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome,” to you. “There ya go,” just doesn’t hack it. When customers spend money, they want to hear a big smiling, “Thank you, we appreciate your business.”  When we, as customers say, “Thank you,” we don’t want to be grunted at with the old, “Uh-huh.”  Speak clearly. “You’re welcome,” is a wonderful phrase. Please use it more often, and don’t be a grunter. When your customer tells you, “Thank you,” give a great big smiling “You’re welcome,” right back at them.

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