The beauty of customer service

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One thing we strive for with our Customer Service is making sure there are opportunities for messages to be left on our phones or emails during the occasions we are away from our desks at a meeting or on another call or (gasp!) taking a vacation. The trick is making sure we set up the email for automatic replies and making sure our phone message is current, concise and doesn’t have overused phrases like “your call is important to us” – of course it is – that’s why you are calling. I may still be bitter after spending 2 calls of over 45 minutes each on hold with a certain toll bridge collection system in Vancouver trying to correct their mistake and finally succumbing to the war of attrition through using up my life’s remaining minutes on hold – OK, here’s your money; I give up.

We have all experienced those companies where their idea of customer service doesn’t quite line up with your expectations; even the lowest ones. Along with hoping you will pass away on hold, here are some of the other messages that were rejected as not quite portraying good customer service.

•I am currently out of the office at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position. Please be prepared for my mood.

•You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn’t have received anything at all.

•I am currently out of the office and can be reached by waiting until I get back.

•I will be unable to delete all the emails you send me until I return from vacation. Please be patient, and your mail will be deleted on a high priority basis.

•I will be away from the office for one week at a training seminar. When I return, don’t expect any improvement.

•Thank you for your email. Your credit card has been charged $5.99 for the first 10 words and $1.99 for each additional word in your message.

•The email server is unable to verify your server connection. Your message has not been delivered. Please restart your computer and try sending again.

•Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queuing system. You are currently in 352nd place, and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.

•Hi. I’m thinking about what you’ve just sent me. Please wait by your computer for my response.

•I’ve run away to join a different circus.

•Hi. Now you say something.

•I am currently out of the office. I have a cell phone, but I will not be giving the number out. If you can guess the number, however, I will take your call.

•I’m sorry if my out of office message gives you false hope of my swift and enthusiastic response.

•I am away from the office right now. Unfortunately, I will be back tomorrow.

While sometimes seemingly rare, there are some companies and service providers out there that do stand out as exemplary, leaving you feeling good after a telephone call, meal or transaction. I always try to compliment those ones on their customer service skills as it seems people are quick to comment on a negative experience a lot faster and more frequent that they do a positive one. If deserved, your kind words will have a greater affirmative effect on that person than the opposite.


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