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A Little Customer Service Goes A Long Way

It's late tonight and I know I'm not going to get to write at all tomorrow, so I want to get this blog down. Sorry, there aren't any pictures, mainly just working through how important customer service is.

Here's why this is on my mind...



My wife recently tried to order something from an Etsy seller that went south on her. There was an expectation communicated that the product would be ready in 24 hrs. Now the seller put that on their description and then followed it with, but busy times could have longer waits.

Customer Service Lesson #1: A seller must be very aware of the expectations they are communicating and work diligently to meet them. If a standard expectation cannot be met, then a communication is required to set a new expectation.

For those of us who have worked professional customer service, this is a no brainer. The problem is that many businesses do not take a profession approach to customer service. It is unprofessional to try and add some wanna be legal phrase after the expectation as a scape goat when you fail. If you fail, own it and reset expectations with the customer.

After my wife followed up multiple times, the seller finally replied asking her to stop emailing her, canceled her order and then replied again to tell her she was rude.

Customer Service Lesson #2: A failure is an opportunity to build relationships.

This is something that I experienced in professional customer service. Look failure is going to happen. No one is out there walking on water, and people understand that. Some of the best relationships I developed with customers and vendors was after I screwed up. You know what I would tell them, "I'm so sorry, I screwed up. I will fix this for you." Then I would lay out a new expectation and make sure I met it.

In the end my wife was in tears because the item she really wanted for my daughter for my daughters birthday is now not possible. She is angry and wants to complain to someone, but Etsy does not offer any consumer support.

Customer Service Lesson #3: A business is only as good as it's reputation.

I believe in a free market. That means everything is an opportunity to build the brand. If a company decides they are going to let a consumer have it, then they are going to lose street cred. In the age of social media, a single slip up can be sent to millions of people instantly (ask Delta!). It takes a lot of hard work to establish a positive reputation, but it can all get flushed with one poorly handled situation.

I understand that business owners and employees cannot please everyone. Sometimes humans have bad days and make bad decisions. We as business owners need to realize that everything is an opportunity to develop relationships. My mantra for starting my coffee company has been: Love what you do and who you do it with. I love making coffee. I try to share some of that love with the people I share it with, be it a smile, a warm greeting, encouraging, empowerment...the list goes on. I know I am going to royally screw up eventually. When that happens, I hope I have the wherewithal to take a breath, center myself, and use my failure to strengthen the relationship with my customer.

I hope to really develop a high level professional customer service model for my coffee shop. Customer service should not be taken likely, it is the meat and potatoes of the service industry, even over all of the damn fine coffee in the world.

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