Dr. Michael LeBoeuf summarizes succinctly when he says the only two things people buy are solutions to problems and good feelings.

For years we’ve used Liberty Bell Telecom for our voice messaging service. It was purchased by Dishnet Telewire a year or two ago.

Today when I attempted to retrieve my voicemails a recorded message instructed me to call a certain number immediately if I wished to continue doing business with Liberty Bell.

Huh? Locked out of my own voicemail by my provider?

I called the number and after a maze of options finally got a live service rep. She was very nice, but she couldn’t locate my account. Odd, since I’ve been sending Liberty Bell money for many years.

At 9:57 minutes she transferred me. The next rep, likewise helpful, couldn’t locate my account and gave me different number to call. Now I’m approaching 20 minutes talking with folks who have a system that doesn’t support the conversation.

I asked her to have someone call me to resolve this situation. I’ve not heard from anyone. Obviously not a priority.

We’ve all got stories like this. That’s one reason good experiences stand out (and while I’d much rather share good examples, bad examples can remind us what NOT to do).

But here are some ideas from my misfortune and frustration you can benefit from:

1. Make sure customer messages in any form don’t sound threatening or ominous. Customers have enough stress without you adding to it.

2. Ensure that systems support service reps. The best efforts of a good rep can’t overcome a bad system.

3. Nice isn’t enough. People want solutions, not just niceties.

4. Take responsibility. Don’t tell the customer what he or she needs to do to resolve a problem you’ve created.

5. Be proactive. When a customer is upset, take the lead in reconciling the situation and saving the account.

6. Most importantly, make very sure your services work as expected and your products are of the quality you advertise. It is easier to keep customers happy than try to salvage their business after a disappointment.

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