Customer Service – It’s In The Details

February 23, 2015

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Every time I’m on the receiving end of bad customer service, I find myself asking, “Oh God, have our clients experienced this kind of service at the salon?”
Recently, I had an unfortunate incident with my new Mini Cooper. Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love my Mini, and I quickly became a raving fan of the brand. My Mini Cooper S is the best car I’ve ever owned, and the best car-buying experience I’ve ever had.
Having said all of that, I found myself stranded in a parking lot this week, unable to get my car out its parking gear. The gear shift was stuck! I was able to start my car, but I simply couldn’t get the gear out of park. It was one of those days. You know, that day when you have a ton of errands to run. The last thing you expect is to become stranded because your car has decided to stay stuck in park!
The first thing I did was call the Mini dealership. When I explained my scenario, the operator casually transferred me to the service department. After a few rings, my call was then dumped into voicemail. Now, visually picture the situation here. Mini Cooper has a customer that is clearly in a frustrating situation.  He’s “dead in the water” so to speak and when he reaches out for help, his call gets dumped into voicemail! Really?
Folks, this is no bueno from a customer service standpoint. And to add insult to injury, I had to hang up and call three more times and three more times the operator did the exact same thing! Finally, I explained that I was tired of having to hang up and then call back, that I wasn’t going to leave a voicemail and that I needed to talk to someone as I was stranded! It took twenty minutes before I finally got a service advisor on the phone. I was so frustrated it took everything I had to keep from dropping F bombs.
How many times do similar situations happen with our front line team in our salons and spas? Are we casually putting clients on hold indefinitely? Are we answering questions with a curt “no” or are we offering options so that clients feel like they have choices? How many times do we disappoint clients or send the wrong message simply because of the inflection of our voice? You know what I mean, we get so busy with what is happening inside of the salon that we rush clients on and off the phone. Let’s be honest, it happens to the best of us.
My story has a happy ending. Fortunately for me (and Mini), I was able to get a service advisor named Mike to help me. I expressed my frustration and described how my call was dismissed and then dumped into voicemail, FOUR times. I explained how pissed off I was and asked why it took so long to get a live person on the phone to help me. I explained that when you have a “hot customer” who’s basically stranded, the last thing you want to do is dump him or her into a voicemail box.
Mike did everything right to calm me down. He didn’t interrupt. Instead, he listened, and then apologized. He didn’t get defensive, and he didn’t write me off as another “crazy customer” who was complaining about “First World problems”.  Then he promised to share my feedback with his supervisor. That was it. That was all he had to do to earn my trust back. It was that simple. In most cases, our clients just want to know that someone is listening. Simply acknowledging that you’re listening, and then apologizing is all we need to do when we have a client that is upset. Instead, we get so taken aback or get caught up in the emotion of the situation that we often forget these easy steps.
Mike explained that my car was basically controlled by a computer. So he advised me to turn the my car off, lock the doors and wait 15 minutes until all the computers inside the car shut down. Then, he suggested that I try again and hopefully I could get my car out of park. It worked! Mike even called me back to see if his suggestion worked. He told me that after he hung up earlier, he asked around and found that there is a known issue with the main computer on the new Minis. He said a simple software update would fix the problem.
Looking back, here’s one thing the operator could have been done differently that would have delivered a 5-star service experience:

The operator could have performed what is called an “assisted transfer” instead of a “blind transfer”. An assisted transfer is when the operator stays on the line with you until you are transferred to a live a person. If he or she can’t get a live person on the phone, they come back onto the line and explain the situation. They then try another extension, or give you the option to leave a voicemail message.
A “blind transfer” is when your call is blindly transferred to another extension where your call just rings until it eventually goes to voicemail. All four of my calls were blind transfers. Blind transfers basically send an indirect message to your clients that they are just another widget in the queue. Blind transfers are impersonal and spell horrible customer service! It’s all in the nitty gritty details folks. Something so simple as to how you handle incoming calls can have a huge impact on your customer retention scores.
What about you? Do you allow calls to be transferred blindly into voicemail in your business? How do you train your guest care team on proper phone etiquette? How do you handle calls from clients who aren’t happy with their salon or spa experience?
Leave your comments below. I want to hear from you!

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  1. CNE' Schneider

    June 8th, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Lol. Gotta watch it with those F-bombs! Nicely done on the keeping-your-composure bit…..
    What a remarkably simple & effective solution…..changing the “blind” to the “assisted”…..I love it!
    Kinda gives new hope for World Peace, don’t ya think? 😉
    At the very least, in this case, definitely has the potential to cut down on Road Rage whenever you DO finally get back up-and-running!

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 chris@chrismurphy.co

Located in Austin, Texas.

Chris Murphy