Creating an authentic space with customers

This late-night thought hit me.

Increasingly, consumers use social media to learn about and buy things. This results in less consumers going to actual stores, interacting with real people, and potentially missing out on a connection that is vital to the client/vendor model. At the same time, this inclination away from physical contact, and toward virtual communication, is creating a boon for companies like mine. Though we are more likely to only know a customer by phone or in text, we are finding it easier to “win” at customer service simply by:

  1. Being polite;
  2. Being patient; And
  3. Being authentic.

We care about every single customer we help, even those challenging situations in which a customer is rightfully upset about a mistake we made. It happens to every company, but even the most negative situation can become an opportunity: To validate the customer’s concerns and let them know they have been heard; And to learn from the situation, and reduce the chances it ever happens again.

I’d like to ask you to consider some recent customer service experiences that stood out to you for either the right or wrong reasons. Why do you remember them? Was there shared respect, or a sense of disrespect, in the exchange? Did you feel the person helping you was tuned into your tempo and not rushing you? Did you feel a sense of trust and honesty, or that you should run far, far away?

Where customer service is most needed, is when something has gone wrong. People are people, and most folks will be happy to chat with a friendly, non-pushy company rep about pretty much anything. The time you need that friendly face most, is when things have broken, you don’t know where to turn to, and you’re on the phone with a member of my staff.

My company is committed to doing the very best job it can at all times. Over the years, we have received increasing praise from customers simply for doing our jobs correctly. It’s gotten to the point that I wonder, how are our competitors (most of whom are much larger and have far more resources than us) so out of tune with this realization that to succeed, the customer must come first? After all, the phrase “customer service” begins with the word, “customer”…

Why are companies receiving accolades for showing up to their jobs and being nice to their customers? Why is the concept of being a decent human being, such a foreign concept for so many companies in technical industries? Is that the direction of business overall, in that customers are lowering their expectations due to their own distancing from the relationship with vendors?

What does this say about customer expectations of accuracy and quality? We have a commitment to providing and supporting our services to the highest degree possible — and with authenticity — but how many customers actually stop long enough to notice the difference between us and our competition?

I think it’s that word, “authenticity”, that speaks volumes about a company, builds trust with customers, and helps raise the bar for something better that both parties can set as a goal.

It’s definitely a lot to think about on this cool first morning of March 2017.

David Anderson

This blog is published by David Anderson, Principal and owner of Canvas Host.