Customer Service Week: ‘Thank You for Calling, How May I Help You?’
Customer Service Week is a national event devoted to recognizing the importance of customer service, and honoring the people who serve and support customers with the highest degree of care and professionalism.
Each year thousands of companies across the United States and around the world celebrate Customer Service Week. They represent leading financial, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, retailing, hospitality, communications, not-for-profit and educational organizations as well as government agencies and others. What unites them is their profound commitment to quality customer service. Join them in celebrating Customer Service Week.
– Customer Service Week Background
I work in customer service. While you may think this week is silly or just one more nonsensical pat on the back to people who get paid to do a job, then you have forgotten the value of good customer service.
Let me just say that this week management rewards us with some fun. On Monday we walked into work and there was balloons, treats, and games played as we continued to do our jobs. Yes, we won prizes but that is nothing new for the place I work. We are always entertaining each other, bringing in baked goods, making each other laugh with the absurdity of people’s behavior. I am one of the lucky ones who work in a pleasant environment with good management. Not everyone has it so well, but quitting a job you don’t like is no longer an option.
Dealing with people is tough. Dealing with angry people is even tougher. Getting an angry customer calmed down, hearing their problem, explaining to them that you are sorry but unfortunately they are responsible for the problem and the company is not giving them any money, AND having the customer understand and apologize for their “foolishness”- well that is talent.
I have picked up a phone and as I went to speak have been told to “shut up and listen,” and another time “bitch, you took my money and you’ll give it back” (I didn’t), and on several occasions had my education questioned by someone with less-than-perfect grammar. At those times I do want to scream into the phone that I am a former teacher with a Master’s degree, but why bother?
People in the Western world are spoiled. I am, you are, we can’t help it. We simply have so much and our goal is to have more. Years ago people just hoped to survive. Now we all want to live like movie stars. I deal with folks who can’t believe our company doesn’t call them to “remind” them we are going to bill them. They are going to call: their lawyer, the Better Business Bureau (so often I want to give them the phone number), the local news, 20/20, all their friends.
I have learned that people DO NOT READ. They delete their confirmation emails that explain how to cancel. They have no clue how to use the internet and should be forced to take a test to be allowed to use the damn thing (locate the “contact us” tab on this page). And don’t get me started on credit cards.
On the flip side, I have called customer service over problems with bills or poor service, or something I needed changed with a service I had. When you speak to someone pleasant, knowledgeable and efficient it is one of the most valuable services you can have. It is right up there with a good mechanic!*
It isn’t all bad. I speak to lovely people who are pleasant and grateful for my assistance. It isn’t all about money and for those that require my knowledge of the product it is quite rewarding to be able to offer it.
Occasionally, a customer will write the company and let them know that a representative was kind, helpful, or just did a great job. This is probably the greatest thing you can do when you have a positive experience. It looks good to management but besides that you will make the representative’s day. I have seen co-workers print comments out and post them at their desk. Some days can be very difficult and a kind word can remind us that our work has value.
Certainly there is terrible customer service also, so send an email about that too. It matters!
So while this week may not be a huge deal, it is worth mentioning. One of the most frequent comments I get when someone hears my voice is, “ Oh, a real person, thank God!” That’s right- a speaking, thinking, knowledgeable, compassionate human being is listening. Surely, that is worth something.
*One of the best companies for customer service is Verizon Wireless. I have called on several occasions for a variety of reasons and they are everything I hope I am with customers. Shout out to them!