Author Topic: Customer service etiquette  (Read 49034 times)

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Lisbeth

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Customer service etiquette
« on: March 09, 2009, 11:28:57 PM »
1.  Customers should not have to wait for prolonged periods of time before being served.  A staffer who is not otherwise occupied with work (not personal matters) should immediately attend to a newly arrived customer.

2.  Staffers have no business shouting at customers, making snide remarks to or about customers, or refusing to serve customers unless the customer's behavior is out of line (personal dislike of a customer does not qualify as "out of line behavior" on the customer's part). 

3. It is not the job of staffers to estimate the income of customers or their ability to afford the goods or services they are attempting to purchase.  The customers themselves should inform the staffers of their budgets.

4.  Once a customer has declared that s/he is not interested in what you are suggesting they buy, immediately cease and desist from attempting to sell that particular good or service to that customer.

5.  Staffers should greet all customers with a friendly, professional attitude and have sincerely pleasant looks on their faces (not necessarily big smiles but not frowns or scowls).  It is not appropriate to address a woman customer as "lady."  Children customers must not be patronized or given disrespectful treatment by staffers.  It is never appropriate to treat customers as though they are wasting your time, even when they are.

6.  Staffers should not "dump on" customers-it is not their business why something in one's personal or professional life isn't going well.

7.  If a customer indicates that s/he does not need assistance, the staffer should respect that and not foist unwanted attention on that customer.

8.  If a staffer has indicated that s/he will respond to a customer within a fixed period of time or otherwise follow up on a matter, s/he needs to do that and not leave the customer hanging.

9.  If it isn't possible to provide a customer with what s/he wants, the staffer needs to indicate this in a manner that is sympathetic to the customer.  Abruptness, brusqueness, curtness, or excessive terseness in manner, whether in person, in writing, on the telephone, or through E-mail is off-putting and can result in loss of business, as will appearing bored.

10.  Snide remarks and negative attitudes about one's business's competitors is inappropriate.

11.  When speaking to a customer on the telephone, it is not appropriate to put him/her on hold for a prolonged period of time or on a speakerphone without their permission.  Speaking clearly and not in a monotone is essential.

12.  A little empathy and understanding on the part of a customer service representative will go a long way.
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nekoro

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2009, 12:48:30 AM »
The only one I have a problem with is number 4.  As much as I wish this weren't so, sometimes it's not my decision whether or not to take "no" for an answer.  Sometimes it's my bosses' decision, and my job can be in trouble if I disregard that.

So, maybe that one should be less for the face-to-face people in the stores, and more for the corporate bigwigs who seem to have forgotten that no means no.

MaggieB

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2009, 02:13:52 AM »
You're on a roll with these, Keen Reader!  The list looks great. 

The only one I have a problem with is number 4.  As much as I wish this weren't so, sometimes it's not my decision whether or not to take "no" for an answer.  Sometimes it's my bosses' decision, and my job can be in trouble if I disregard that.

So, maybe that one should be less for the face-to-face people in the stores, and more for the corporate bigwigs who seem to have forgotten that no means no.

I definitely understand where you're coming from, but your boss is still asking you to be rude.  I was going to say that I'm surprised this is actually policy, but I'm really not surprised at all.   ;)  You're right, this one should be aimed at whomever is making the rule, whether it's corporate policy or whether the salesperson feels he or she has better luck when putting on the pressure.

Lisbeth

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2009, 08:40:10 AM »
KeenReader, did you want to add etiquette rules of how customers should treat CSRs in this thread, or did you plan to start another one? If you do, I will post in that one, but if not I have some suggestions for this thread. Let me know, because I don't want to start an avalanche on this one if that is not the purpose of it. Thanks  :).

Feel free to add your suggestions to this thread.  I'd like to see them, wherever they're posted!
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ginlyn32

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2009, 08:53:39 AM »
For the Customer:

*Do not treat the salesperson/CSR as if they are beneath you.

*Do not be verbally abusive to the salesperson/CSR. If you want to complain, contact a manager or supervisor.

*Do not waste the Salesperson/CSR's time by asking for the impossible. (i.e. a book that is not even published yet or an item that was discontinued) If the CSR tells you that the item you are looking for is no longer being produced, please respect the answer.

*When calling about an account or order, please have your account/order information handy. If you are calling about a particular item, please have the SKU number or item name. It is not helpful to the CSR to describe what you are looking for as "the book that was on Oprah last week".

*Please obey the payment methods rules and restrictions. If they say no checks, it means NO CHECKS!

*Please keep track of your children. If they do make a mess, please make a reasonable attempt to clean up after them.

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jais

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2009, 08:58:27 AM »
For the Customer:


*When calling about an account or order, please have your account/order information handy. If you are calling about a particular item, please have the SKU number or item name. It is not helpful to the CSR to describe what you are looking for as "the book that was on Oprah last week".




POD! POD! POD!

And please, when calling your bank, don't get in a huff when asked for your account number or social security number.  Also, stating that you refuse to give that information over the phone won't help.  I need one or the other to help you.  You're not the only Bob or Jane Nelson out there.

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2009, 09:01:30 AM »
For the CSR

*Please tell the customer what you *can* do for them, and what their options are at the given moment.  Do *not* tell them what they cant do, and then fall silent.  This does not resolve anything, and only puts a stop to the interaction.  Your job is to resolve the situation to their satisfaction, according to your policies.  This means that you should offer them options based on the current situation.

Ginlyn covered mine for the customer, so I wont repeat them, but the above is a serious pet peeve of mine.  I cant tell you how many times I've had to say "Ok, what *can* we do in this situation then?" and it's like seriously? why am *I* asking this question??? 

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jais

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2009, 09:04:54 AM »
For the CSR

*Please tell the customer what you *can* do for them, and what their options are at the given moment.  Do *not* tell them what they cant do, and then fall silent.  This does not resolve anything, and only puts a stop to the interaction.  Your job is to resolve the situation to their satisfaction, according to your policies.  This means that you should offer them options based on the current situation.

Ginlyn covered mine for the customer, so I wont repeat them, but the above is a serious pet peeve of mine.  I cant tell you how many times I've had to say "Ok, what *can* we do in this situation then?" and it's like seriously? why am *I* asking this question??? 
[/soap box] 


I agree in general, however some customers (not you, of course) ask the impossible.
Example:
I want you to credit my account $200 because I had to stand in line for 10 minutes and that's what my time is worth.  That's just not going to happen and there really isn't anything I CAN do.

snowball's chance

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2009, 09:06:48 AM »
For the Customer:

U.S. retail stores are not a flea market or garage sale, where you bargain with the person behind the counter.  The product costs exactly what the price tag says.  If you are buying, say 6-10 units, the salesperson may be able to offer you about 10% off, even if in your eyes you are buying "so much".  

ginlyn32

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2009, 09:07:46 AM »
Oh...for the CSR/Salesperson:

*At least offer to show the customer to the item they are looking for. Don't just point in a vague direction and then expect them to go on a scavenger hunt. A little effort goes a long way into building a relationship with your customer. As a customer, I really appreciate the time a Salesperson takes to show me where things are or to explain benefits/features of a product I am considering. (yeah, this shouldn't have to be said, but you have no idea how many times I've encountered this as a customer)

*I cannot express this more. Do not EVER make assumptions based on apperances. Do not judge a person based on how s/he is dressed or weigh.

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2009, 09:20:08 AM »
Maybe this is a store policy thing, but it drives me nuts when I am at the register, paying for my purchase and the clerk stops serving me to answer the phone.  I mean, I'm here giving you my money now.  The person on the phone may never buy anything.

It is especially irksome when it becomes apparent that the call is personal, not business.

So for me:

* While serving a customer, finish the transaction before answering the phone.  Once you do answer, if the call is not business related (or a personal emergency) and you have customers waiting, tell the caller you will call them back when you next have a break.
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ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2009, 09:22:20 AM »
For the CSR

*Please tell the customer what you *can* do for them, and what their options are at the given moment.  Do *not* tell them what they cant do, and then fall silent.  This does not resolve anything, and only puts a stop to the interaction.  Your job is to resolve the situation to their satisfaction, according to your policies.  This means that you should offer them options based on the current situation.

Ginlyn covered mine for the customer, so I wont repeat them, but the above is a serious pet peeve of mine.  I cant tell you how many times I've had to say "Ok, what *can* we do in this situation then?" and it's like seriously? why am *I* asking this question??? 
[/soap box] 


I agree in general, however some customers (not you, of course) ask the impossible.
Example:
I want you to credit my account $200 because I had to stand in line for 10 minutes and that's what my time is worth.  That's just not going to happen and there really isn't anything I CAN do.

Sure there is!  So, in that situation, the appropriate response of the CSR is "I'm sorry sir/m'am that you had to wait.  What I can do is set you up to speak with a manager/give you a form to file a complaint, if you'd like."

See the emphasis? It's on what you *can* do, not on what you cant. I specifically didnt say that the CSR should honor or do whatever the customer wants - I *know* customers have ridiculous requests and treat CSRs unfairly sometimes.

However, a good CSR will say "This customer wants to be heard about their dissatisfaction with our services (even if what they really want is a freebie/discount).  These are our avenues to do that with. Let me offer them to the customer in order to facilitate the situation."  See the difference?
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2009, 09:45:13 AM »
* While serving a customer, finish the transaction before answering the phone.  Once you do answer, if the call is not business related (or a personal emergency) and you have customers waiting, tell the caller you will call them back when you next have a break.

I'd say excuse me, answer the phone and immediately ask the customer to hold if I'm the only one available to answer it.

FoxPaws

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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2009, 09:50:00 AM »
For Customers:
- Do not talk on your cell phone, text, or play with your PDA while someone is trying to wait on you.

- Know what it is you want and state it up front. Do not make the CSR play 20 Questions to ascertain what it is you need.

- If you don't wish to give your ZIP code, phone number, etc. to the cashier or partake in the charity drive or additional goods or services offered, a polite "no" is all that's required. If it truly bothers you, write to corporate headquarters - the cashiers are simply following company policy and risk their jobs if they do not ask.

- Use common sense regarding turn around times, lengths of waits, or time needed to complete a transaction. If you're going to shop during peak hours, there will be a longer wait, period. If you are not sure when an establishment's rush hours are, call ahead and ask. Waiting until the last minute to do anything will limit your options.

- Apply that same common sense to Supply & Demand. If your child MUST have HotNewToy for Christmas, don't wait until December 21st to buy it and then make a donkey's rear end of yourself when there are no more available.

- Be ready to provide documentation when it's required: your ID when writing a check, the receipt when making a return, a written quote or advertisement for price matching specials, etc.
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Re: Customer service etiquette
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2009, 10:01:53 AM »
Snowball, that makes sense.  I'd be OK with that, too.  I just feel that if I'm physically there, I should be the priority for service over someone on the phone.  Maybe that makes me a Special Snowflake.   :)
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