What is Good Customer Service?

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By Melissa Hoistion, Senior Account Executive, R&J Public Relations

During the holiday season, I had a customer service issue with a large retail chain where I’d shopped.  It caused me to pause and wonder if I was being overly dramatic, or if their customer service was really as bad as I thought it was.  I sat down and asked myself, what do I expect in a customer service situation?  Then I had to ask myself, do I always provide five-star customer service, or client service as we call it at R&J?

Here are five key things I believe you need to do to provide the best client service you can.

  1. Respond.  I realize this is such a simple thing, but you would be surprised at how often it is overlooked.  If a client sends you an email, or leaves you a voicemail message, respond to them promptly telling them you received it and if necessary, are working on the answer and will get it to them by whatever date, if you can’t answer it right away.  This way they know you’ve received it, it didn’t get “lost” in cyberspace or your spam filter, and you care about what they need or want.  In my holiday customer service situation, I had left messages for four straight days with different assistant managers and the store manager and not once did anyone return my call.  It was so frustrating because I felt that I was not important and not being heard.
  2. Deliver.  If you tell someone you will deliver a project by a certain day or time, then you need to deliver it by then.  Or if something happens and you can’t, you immediately contact them, apologize and give them a new time or day to expect the project.  Most people understand, but they need to know that their project is important, too.
  3. Be on time.  If you have a conference call or a meeting with a client, don’t make them wait.  Be early or on time.  If something happens and you are not going to make it on time, call them or email them ahead of time and apologize, but let them know.  Don’t leave them waiting for you.
  4. Be truthful.  No one likes to be lied to or mislead.  Tell the truth about what is going on.   Most people will respect you for being straight with them.  Why risk your credibility and reputation with a lie?
  5. Be reachable.  If a client has an emergency or a situation that they would like to talk through, they should be able to reach someone, especially during business hours.  In my situation, even when I went to the store to get an answer, the store manager was always unable to be reached.  It was very frustrating.

I don’t think I was asking too much; I just wanted someone to call me back and let me know how they were going to handle the situation.  Instead, they put me off for over two weeks, never once called me back, and even when I went to the store, the manager was “unavailable.”  It was completely ridiculous.  This is definitely an example of bad customer service.

I finally did get the situation resolved after I escalated it.  It has made me realize that being able to provide great customer service is a very important skill, a skill that obviously not everyone cultivates. At R&J, we strive to always provide our clients with the best service we can, and to that end, we have our five-star client service standards. These ensure that all our clients are treated the way we would like to be treated.

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