Many times in business, whether we’re supporting a local brick and mortar shop or an online establishment, our daily interactions are not with the founder or CEO of the company. Sometimes we connect with the manager, but more often than not, our dealings are with the support staff.

As customers, we associate the company with its employees. Our opinion of the customer service (the frontline) contributes to our viewpoint regarding the business.

Can Chains Get Away With Poor Customer Service?

Recently, I was at a local Starbucks and I told the Barista behind the counter that both bathrooms were out of toilet paper. Instead of apologizing and immediately rectifying the situation, she replied: “Oh, alright.” – with an eye-roll. Can you imagine if you were out on a date and that happened? 🙂

For me, since Starbucks is a global phenomenon, my experience won’t stop me from going back anytime soon. However, if it was a smaller establishment, it might. I think expectations are higher when the company is smaller. We are accustomed to more personalized service and graceful attention.

However, that doesn’t excuse inadequate service – no matter how big or small an operation is.

When Support Is Only Available Via Email

Another recent experience was with an online company specializing in advanced software technology. My client has a monthly subscription with this company. Their product integrates the customer management software and the online webinar platform. Last week, we were in the middle of launch mode. For all my solopreneurs, you know what that means – a massive amount of details, investment in Facebook ads, increased labor costs, etc! A time where it is imperative for all to go as PERFECTLY as possible!

Everything was successful during the tests. However, our first invitation to the mailing list, which should’ve automatically registered attendees for our informative webinar as part of the integration, failed. I reached out to their customer support team for guidance, providing all the necessary details to properly troubleshoot. The reply was quite lame at first. I persisted, highlighting the urgency of the matter. A different support person reached out with a bogus “catch-all” response. Finally, I CC’d the owner of the company and received the real answer, which was that there was a global break in the system.

What’s my point?

Had his frontline honestly communicated that information to me on the first reply, I could have adjusted the campaign and found a resolution. Things should not have to escalate to the point of creating a frustrated customer before care and action are taken.

Our customer service team is crucial.

As owners, it is our responsibility to train and support our staff. Infusing our company culture, briefing them on our most recent policies and procedures, and positively reinforcing good behavior should be a standard practice. How our customers/clients feel about us is a direct result of their experience with the people who represent our company. In most cases, the people on our frontline are the face of our brand. So, choose wisely.

Remember, it is much easier to please and delight our customers on the first try vs. trying to backpedal and coat things over after a poor experience.

Positive Frontline

In Conclusion…

If you are a team of one, then I suggest having your vision, mission, and your “why” written in a place that you review often when dealing with clients to refresh your “happiness and patience factor.”

If you have a support staff or even a virtual assistant, I’d suggest using ZenDesk. ZenDesk is a customer service software that allows you and your team to manage one inbox. It provides a unified, communication frontline. It also has features like creating macro’s, which are similar to auto-responders. So for questions that come in repeatedly, you can have a well thought out, kind reply on hand.

Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to tweak your auto-responders to personalize the message and avoid sounding canned. They have programs for as little as $5 per agent, per month. I’ve been using them for years, and I am very pleased.

Make your frontline great! Your business and your bottom-line will benefit.

Until next time…breathe joy,
Integrative Business Advisor