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CUSTOMER SERVICE

3 Simple Rules for Headache-Proof Customer Service

Focusing on customer service will keep customers coming back.
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How many times have you tried to get service from a company and been passed around endlessly to no avail? How does this make you feel? Personally, it makes me feel either as if there is not order in the world or, at least, as if I’ve wasted my time.

As a business owner, each day you take money from people. You transfer money from their bank accounts to yours. We assume these people have to work very hard for their money just as we do. When we take money from people, there is an implied and even direct promise of services to be rendered. As a result, there must be a common buy in among every employee that customers are entitled to excellent products and excellent service. This is not just about business; this is about life.

Despite the crucial nature of ingraining a culture of customer service at your company, it is terrifyingly easy for customer service to fall flat. At Sageworks, we're constantly working on creating and maintaining the best possible customer experience. Rather than dilute the message we share with our team, I thought I’d share an email that I recently sent to the entire customer facing team at Sageworks.

Below is an excerpt from that email, which outlines three crucial protocols related to customer service. They've helped our team. Maybe they can help yours, too.

Are we going to be just another company with good products and OK service? I hope not. We want great products and great service. Here are three tangible things that must be hardwired into our DNA as a company:

1. Respond to an unhappy customer immediately.

When you have even the tiniest inkling that a customer is not happy, you jump on the issue immediately and solve the problem yourself. A customer may not come out and directly say that he or she is unhappy. You’ll have to use a little bit of judgment and intuition here.

2. If you can't help, immediately loop somebody in who can.

Suppose you do not have the capability of helping the customer. Well, then, you refer them to someone here who does. Now, you have two things to do. First, you must be sure the person you hand this off to finishes the relay and gets the job done. You ask the person you referred the customer to if he or she is on the problem. This must happen immediately.  

3. Follow up personally.

Even after passing off to another team member, you also touch base with the customer yourself on your own. Why? Because this assures that no customer is left behind. It is possible that the customer gets multiple people contacting him or her, but we are very happy with this result, because this ensures service and it overwhelms the customer with love. We are maniacal about customer service.

So, who does this fall to? Well, should it not fall to all the people who are getting money from the customers; that is, to everyone? The idea is that the people who accrue economic benefits are obligated to provide services. Customer service is everyone's obligation. This is really an internal game if you think about it. Our reputation is outside of our control; what we do and how we act is within our control, so that is what we manage. This is not at all about hitting numbers. I care little about our sales numbers if we are doing the very best we can to service people. At this company, money has some importance but our real goal is to be a social good, which comes from outstanding service and products. --Brian

Last updated: Mar 21, 2014

BRIAN HAMILTON | CEO, Sageworks

Brian Hamilton is the co-founder and chairman of Sageworks, an Inc. 500 honoree. Hamilton is an original co-developer of FIND (Financial Information into Narrative Data), which converts financial numbers into plain language.




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