Avoid these customer service mistakes

Assorted customer service issues I encountered recently serve as important reminders of what not to do. Let’s hope you can learn from these incidents.

customer service skills training, customer service training programs1. Provide accurate instructions/directions. While leaving a hotel last Saturday, I asked a person at the front desk where I would meet the shuttle bus. She gestured toward the front of the building. I then asked whether I needed to stand on this, the near side, or the far side of the street. She said I should stand on the near side. So I did.

You can imagine my surprise when the bus cruised out of the parking structure attached to the hotel and blew right past me. Turns out I was supposed to exit the rear of the hotel and look for the bus stand. As a result of her poor instructions, I missed that bus and had to arrange alternative transportation.

2. Don’t delay with important paperwork. I have been trying to arrange for an upgrade of the propane tank at our family’s cabin. The individual who was slated to do the work, let’s call him Mr. Smith, agreed to meet me at our cabin on Friday, July 11.

That morning, about four hours before the work is to begin, Mr. Smith informs me that I need to complete an application form before he can do the install. I don’t have a problem completing an application form. What I want to know is: Why did he wait about six weeks to notify me? He should’ve mentioned that way back in the early stages of our discussions.

Always make sure the paperwork is completed early so your installers (or whoever) can complete the project on time. Oversights like this one cause customers to question your operations. Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing?

3. Follow through on promises. The TV in my room at the Marriott hotel didn’t work properly. When I turned it on, it showed only channel 70, the default channel. Clicking around just gave me blank screens. In order to see all the channels I had to turn the TV off and on about a half-dozen times.

The maintenance guy who showed up that evening said they were having problems those LG TVs. Fine. He also said he’d leave a message for the day crew to work on my TV the following morning. (Was a fairly easy workaround.)

Upon returning to my room the following evening I discovered that the TV still didn’t work properly. There was no note from the maintenance crew letting me know they had been in my room and, perhaps, were unable to fix the problem. That was my final evening at the hotel, so I just dealt with the quirk.

Always make sure that you or a colleague follow up on promises made. If you can’t fulfill the matter–some issues require more attention–let the customer know. Keep the customer abreast of the situation; that shows you are still working on the matter. Customers don’t like to feel that their problems are being ignored or are forgotten.

Not all incidents are handled poorly, of course. I’d like to acknowledge one person’s efforts during a stressful time. My U.S. Airways flight from Philadelphia to Milwaukee on Saturday was delayed for mechanical reasons. The jet was late in arriving, then they found a minor issue with the aircraft while it was on the ground at Philadelphia.

Gate attendant Faith kept us apprised on a regular basis through calm, articulate messages. Just the kinds of follow-up broadcasts that weary travelers need. Though my departure was delayed about 1-1/2 hours, I wasn’t that upset. Faith handled the challenging situation properly.

For related reading, see “Start off with good customer service” and “Staying in touch can pay dividends”.

What customer service issues have you faced? Feel free to leave a comment. If you found value with this post, could you do me a favor and share it with others? You may use any of the buttons below. To contact me, send an email.

Tom Fuszard, content writer, blog writing, pr writing, web copy Follow me on Twitter.
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