My recent trip to Mexico City was ripe with the universal application of many Dale Carnegie Human Relations principles. I reserved a Teotihuacán Pyramids tour and was told I’d return to my hotel by 5 pm in time to freshen up and meet friends to celebrate my last night in town. Once aboard the shuttle, Luis, the tour guide told me I actually wouldn’t arrive before 7:30 pm. Instead of becoming an irate customer, I gave him opportunities to resolve the mix-up.
Here are three keys to stellar customer service.
1. Care– The tour guide could’ve simply said, ‘No,’ when I asked if there was any way to get me back to my hotel earlier. Instead, Luis applied Dale Carnegie’s 7th principle, ‘Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves,’ by asking me what my concierge had said, my plans were, etc. After listening to my responses, he said we had a two-hour drive to the pyramids and it would be difficult to find a driver who could pick me up and take me back to the city. He promised that he would do everything he could to help. By asking me questions, using my name—Mr. Carnegie’s 6th principle, and committing to doing everything he could, he proved that he truly cared about me. Demonstrating care is essential to stellar customer service.
2. Communication– Calm and confident communication is crucial to stellar customer service. Customer service agents must not only put forth effort to fully understand the issue(s), but also maintain patience and self-control regardless of how irate a customer may be. Not all customers are rightfully frustrated—sometimes they’re wrong. Treating them respectfully, however, is the only option for stellar customer service.
Customer service agents handling an impatient and demanding customer can begin to alleviate the situation by applying Mr. Carnegie’s 1st principle, ‘Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.’ Doing so would only infuriate the customer even more. Instead, ask probing questions to problem-solve as quickly as possible, just as Luis inquired about my plans. If you don’t have the answers you need, set the customer’s expectations in terms of when you will have the answer, and follow-up accordingly.
3. Convenience– Corporations touting a culture of service understand the value of serving the people who purchase their products. Equally important to the service level provided is the means through which disgruntled customers connect with live agents. There is nothing worse than being lost in an automated maze of tele-prompts or enduring long hold times. This is why human-to-human conversations, 24/7 technical support, web chats and weekend hours are all convenience components of stellar customer service.
By training customer service agents to resolve issues promptly and courteously, organizations can avoid public criticism and instead, fuel their loyalty and referral levels. Luis located a driver who dropped me off in Mexico City even earlier than I had hoped. Nearly 2,500 miles away from home, I was grateful to be the recipient of such stellar customer service.