Customer Service

Recently I had two experiences with customer service, one dismal and one exemplary, one with an old established Canadian behemoth and the other with a new, local business.

Bell Canada, our long-time service provider (my husband has used Bell for 40 years or so), disappointed me and left me hanging.

I had to return equipment and even though it was Bell that dropped the ball, not telling me the proper procedure for equipment return and not following through on their part in their own process, the company representative put up barrier after barrier (just envision a "talk to the hand" attitude). It stretched my ability to respond nicely to the max, but I did manage to stay cool and calm.

Conducting a bit of customer service (CS) research, I stumbled upon this idea at Maximizer.

The key to making these [i.e. CS] interactions run smoothly and keeping the customer happy is knowledge.

Bingo! Had the rep had the knowledge of how to resolve the issue, I would have left a much happier customer. After receiving three no's to our quandry of how to return equipment the same day we were leaving the province, and after insisting that a rep call head office to inquire, and after finding out that yes, there was an easy enough solution, I was not impressed with the string of no's.

Contrast this with our experience at 2 Chefs, a restaurant in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Our need to order gluten free (my husband is a Celiac) was no problem. The server was attentive to service needs, and she also spent a few moments engaging us in lovely conversation. As customers wandered in to this unassuming spot, it was clear that the ambiance - congenial, laid back - was part great quality and part great service.

The food, pictured above, was phenomenal! Home made ketchup, home-made blackberry jam (these grow in wild profusion on the Island), and the gluten free toast was so tender and fresh - and if you've ever eaten gluten free bread, you'll appreciate that this is huge, HUGE!I finished the entire plate, down to the last drop of ketchup and jam, which I never do! I highly recommend this eatery, without reservation.

Yes, two wildly different companies, but CS is a constant in every business that provides a service.

So, any recommendations for a mobile phone service provider? I've no desire to continue helping Bell earn revenues until it steps up its treatment of customers in a bind, which are the ones who need help the most!

As for Two Chefs? We'll be back to the eatery that was born "for the love of food"!

 

Tooting My Own Horn

There was a time when I worked evenings and weekends, rarely passing up the opportunity to land a new client. Part of the motivation was financial, as building a business has lots of ups and downs for what seems to be a long time, but part was simply because I have a bit of a competitive edge to me!

Today, however, I cannot land every person who reaches out to me as I am simply too busy and receive too many inquiries. I think that there are several reasons why I attract potential clients.

The first is my 10-year track record as a full-time career services provider. In this decade, I built a clientele of thousands and many return for resume updates and refer family, friends, and co-workers.

But lots of businesses do not survive past the first or second year.

I attribute a great deal of my success to the fact that I embrace a "high touch" customer service ethic.

Most clients work with me virtually: we never meet other than in emails or telephone calls. I feel it's important that they have confidence in me as a reliable, trust-worthy partner; hence, I reply to emails as quickly as I can and correspond generously.

Here is a list of what my clients can expect:

- I answer each and every email. If I don't, please email again. Occasionally folks provide me with an address that has a typo (email generated from my website) and I am unable to reply. Sometimes, rarely, but I am human, an email gets buried and I simply forget. Know that I want to be supportive and responsive, not avoidant.

- I also reply to voice mails, typically on the same day.

- I like to surprise repeat clients with a little something - a discount or the odd "freebie."

- I've yet to miss a deadline. If we agree to a date, you can bank on it. Now I did have a colleague for whom I took a last minute client when she ended up in the hospital. I don't promise I'll write from the hospital if this happens to me, but, like my colleague, I'll try to find a replacement! (Knock on wood, I am from hardy stock!)

- I support my clients with loads of additional info - white papers or "how to's" on all kinds of job search topics. Many of these have helped my clients distinguish themselves from the competition and land great jobs, overcoming obstacles like ageism, no Canadian experience, no relevant experience, a gap due to maternity or paternity leave, and more.

- I won't argue with my client. If I disagree, I will share my knowledge and recommend a "best practice" option, and then I, of course, allow my client to make the final decision. After all, the documents do belong to the client who must share them in full confidence. If something doesn't feel right to the client, then by all means, s/he has the right to proceed as s/he prefers.

I often say that I have the best clients. In 10 years few have elected to not pay, perhaps five, and hundreds have sent referrals. I've "fired" only one client out of more than a thousand.

I'm grateful for my clients - for what I've learned, for what they've shared, for how I've been able to be helpful. My job is rewarding and sustaining.

Emails that bounce back, being human, and a bit of rambling ...

It's odd and as I'm no techie, I don't understand how this can happen (if any readers can enlighten me, please do!), but this has happened perhaps two or three times in my years of business. A reader writes to me, using the handy "contact me" box on my website's right hand banner, and when I respond, the email bounces back as undeliverable!

What's with that?!

The latest one was from a person who signed off with the name "Noe," although that name was not in the email address. If this is you, know that I replied, but the reply was rejected and the reason given was "mailbox unavailable."

Which brings me to the general topic of customer service. I strive to reply quickly, certainly within 24 hours, so if I haven't, it's either because your email didn't make it, my reply wasn't accepted, or sometimes I have to admit that an email gets buried under too many emails and I lose track of it. It doesn't happen often, but I am only human after all - I don't claim to be perfect, just super committed to treating my clients and readers with attentive service.

The buried email happened last week, to an existing and long-time client, who needs a resume update. It feels yucky to have forgotten someone's work. Thankfully she is not in a hurry, but proactively getting ready for a job search. Somehow, knock on wood, I have not yet missed a critical deadline for any client! Thank goodness!

On another note, I will finish reviewing "The Infographic Resume" soon as I've received another new book to review, again from McGraw Hill Education. "Great Answers Great Questions for your Job Interview" looks like another worthwhile read!I'd best get cracking on the reading.

I'm also in the midst of Wally Lamb's "We are Water," which I so far find intriguing! This is typical - lots of books on the go, fiction and non-fiction.

And I have a mandala project waiting for me at my craft table. I sat down to create a healing mandala for a friend who is recovering from cancer, but that got put on hold as the mandalas (a series of two small ones) titled themselves "Accepting Imperfection"! No idea where this came from, but such is the wonder of contemplative mandelas. As I work through them, I am sure that I will understand the "why."

Cheers!

 

Customer Service and the Resume

Last week I had to send my BlackBerry off for repairs. Its speakers seemed incapable of transmitting my voice, which is already a quiet voice; potential clients couldn't hear me, which is obviously not a good situation!

And I happened to take the BB not to the Bell outlet from which I purchased it, but to another outlet. It was serendipity, as we happened to be passing by it on our way to a grocery store that we had never been to before. I'm glad we went there.

The customer service at GC Telecom Solutions Inc., was awesome! (their Ontario locations include York Street in London, Brideport Road East in Waterloo, and Huron Street in Stratford) It was a real contrast to the outlet from which I had purchased the BB less than a year prior. Although I had to give up my BB, the staff there made the transition seamless. I was grateful as I am no techie! Not only was the transition to a loaner seamless, but the attitude of all was friendly, helpful, conversational; in contrast, the first outlet had been low on smiles, help, interest, or chit-chat.

Customer Service Resume

Earlier this week I recreated a resume for a past client whose employment goal had changed. The first resume I composed on his behalf was to facilitate a transition to self-employment, and he had subsequently decided to return to a corporate workforce.

Aiming at a customer service role, I toned down the leadership aspect (critical thinking, initiative, sales, presentations), and rephrased and repurposed these to suit customer service. Rather than showcase a leadership skill set, I showcased his ability to "be of service." Here are a few sample bullets:

-  Served as first point of contact representing the organization.

-  Gathered and recorded feedback information and collaborated with customer service and other teams to analyze needs and improve software’s implementation.

- Revitalized internal processes, improving service and standardizing forms.

 

Of course the profile and list of skills further developed the service theme, referencing negotiations, problem solving, good listening, reading body language, conflict resolution and more.

 

This language significantly toned down his "leadership" resume, which included bullets such as the following:


 

Specific Projects and Accomplishments:

w  Business Process Mapping – Collaborated with Purchasing Manager to isolate and resolve process issues. Investigated marketing, logistics, and sales processes, and tailored solutions to impending ERP implementation.

o   Streamlined processes by 40%, which raised operational efficiency and lowered operational costs.

 Same client, different goals.

That's part of my service! Along with smiles, lots of attention, timely replies, and oodles of help, I love to use the written word to communicate the message that my client wants to convey.