Five Ways to Improve Your Customer Service

UnknownI just went through an uncomfortable customer service experience with The Ford Motor Company and the handling of their recall of my vehicle. While I understand recalls happen and improve safety, I believe corporations should recognize some very basic principles in the handling of their customer service. Customer Service is paramount.

Here is my advice about how you can improve your customer service:

1) Care. Customer service is truly that simple. Show the customer that you genuinely care about them, and that you’re not just trying to cover your butt. Recognize the importance of the customer’s time, and acknowledge its value. Show the customer you care about them, not the problem, not the product, not who’s right, but the individual customer. Care.

2) Answer the Customer’s Question. Don’t answer questions so guardedly and evasively that the consumer is confused. Don’t make the customer go through a series of handlers before getting someone that can actually answer the question. Respond to the customer’s questions timely. Unanswered questions makes the customer feel unimportant. Ultimately the customer just wants to know if someone is doing something.

3) Ask The Customer The Magic Question: What can I do to make this better? You don’t necessarily have to give what they ask, but if it is the right thing to do, I hope you consider it. The customer will at least feel as if they were heard. Perhaps the customer doesn’t even know what they want, and this line of questioning will lead to a solution. Listen to the customer. Keeping records does not make good customer service. Just because you took notes about our conversation does not prove to me anything is being done, nor that you even listened.

4) Offer Something The Customer Cannot Obtain or Achieve on Her Own Personalize the experience. Offer to do something the customer cannot do on their own. Ford offered to call the local dealer for me and the car rental place and make an inquiry. I had already done that. Living in a small town I asked them not to bother the dealer because the recall wasn’t his fault. I even asked them to document that request. It was overlooked and made me uncomfortable in my community. Again, listen to the customer. Don’t offer to do something I can do on my own, provide me with something beyond my ability.

5) If your Company has a slogan or motto, Live up to it! On Ford’s website it says: Ford: Drive one. Yet during the three months I was without my vehicle I was never offered one, even after I requested one. Ford hired Enterprise to provide me with a rental vehicle. Their slogan is “Enterprise: We’ll Pick You Up.” Yet, when I called them to schedule to pick up, they told me I was out of their delivery range. What!? If you have a slogan, live up to it.

I wish Ford well, in fact I own stock in the company, and I applaud the workers that build their amazing vehicles. However, Ford’s future success, and that of any company is not solely in their product, but their customer service. Sadly, my next vehicle will not be a Ford simply because they had me test drive a competitor’s vehicle for the three months of recall repair. (I share this post in hopes it helps Ford improve. I reached out to Ford through their toll free number, Facebook, and Twitter during my unpleasant Ford experience.) Recalls and repairs happen, but take care of the customer. For better or for worse, the experience will be memorable.

My local Ford Dealer was awesome! Each and every member understood and delivered excellent customer service. They followed each of the five suggestions for Great Customer Service above. The Ford Corporation however, didn’t deliver a good customer service experience at all.

A couple of my followers on Twitter shared these customer service suggestions:

@jcorppio on Twitter says : @kellycroy Best cust service concept: “I will handle that” and then doing it on time, with no negative nonverbal cues, even if you hate it

@grocer0123 on Twitter says: @kellycroy Well, don’t tell me I’ll get it tomorrow and it still not be here the day after tomorrow.


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Kelly Croy is a chalk artist and professional speaker.

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