Customer service

Now what was the first thought that popped in your head when you read those words? Did you cringe? smile? remembered the last time you got horribly plated food served to you in a restaurant? or had a fantastic conversation with someone who should be irritated from having to deal with their hundredth customer?

Internally or externally we are always dealing with people and whenever we are dealing with people we are servicing them. While most articles / blogs etc on the subject seem to concentrate on the first person interaction, the problem may be as fundamental as simply hiring wrong.  Wrong person for the wrong job, as simple as that.

Interviews can be quite deceptive, how do you judge whether a person will be able to perform the job that you are hiring them for, in the way that you expect them to perform it? You don’t. Managers go part by scores and part by gut. Some recruits perform brilliantly and some fall flat on the face, either way recruitment can be a gamble which is why it’s hedged with the usual 6 months probationary period. If the recruit fails to perform, fit into the company culture or otherwise prove to be completely unsuitable, there’s the built-in way out that goes both way.

Now if you are a recruiting manager what do you look for? Is the job experience more important? Or the characteristics that are needed to do the job well more important? Example, you need outgoing, happy, people person to be in your front till or on the phone with your customer. They need to come across as nice friendly people who are happy to help the customer. In this case, hiring for characteristics would make more sense, than hiring someone just because they have had years of experience in customer service.

If you are the one looking for a job or looking to change career, company or simply hoping to land a higher pay packet – ask  yourself this, do I really want to do this job? Did I land up in this career by accident and then simply decided to stick it out? Do I have any passion or interest for the work I do? If you are not doing what you would love to be doing and if you cannot change jobs/careers/source of income, then maybe you need to rethink parts of what you are doing, try to find something in your job that you DO enjoy and capitalize on that.

In order to avoid rambling, I am going to sum it all up in this one experience:

UK Border Agency customer service – this particular woman who dealt with immigration regulation for me and my son, I loved her. Why? She was sympathetic to the fact that travelling with a child for more than 16 hours is not an easy deal. She smiled, made eye contact, asked us all the questions she had to, put us through the formalities quickly and efficiently, yet her questioning felt like small talk with a friend. And at the end of it all, she wished us a great summer holiday and sent us on our way. The reason this stuck out in my mind is because I had the exact opposite experience in Istanbul Airport, they took our passports, looked at our visas, the guy goes off to discuss our passports/visas with someone else and then there’s a group of 2-3 ppl discussing it and I am standing there and thinking, Mister if you’ve got a question, ask me. They never did ask any question but took 5+ minutes of conferencing to decide that we were ok for onward journey. See what I mean? By contrast, this woman at the Border Agency asked questions while her supervisor stood nearby and obviously wasn’t unaware of the ongoing conversation. The difference in experience in just 4 hours was stark.

This woman stood out to me as strong, empowered, empathetic and generally just the kind of person I wouldn’t mind dealing with at the end of 20 hour journey 🙂 Now in this case, obviously not only did the Border Agency hire the right characteristics, but they’ve also trained right to provide that empowerment. Her supervisor was close at hand but never intervened and I see that as being supportive without being intrusive or micro-managing. Overall, my experience was very positive … now imagine if this was a business, what a boost it would get from such positive reviews!

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Posted on July 20, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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