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Homes & Lifestyle



John Daly: You Don’t Like My Customer Service Skills?

By John Daly for The Key Class |

Have you experienced poor customer service from businesses, restaurant personnel or in retail shops? What are the main reasons we experience poor customer service these days? Does it all go back to training and education? A group of etiquette coaches and customer service experts shared their thoughts with me to provide insight.

Several associates thought the problem was training and education—in part. If it’s just having employees in customer-facing roles who do not actually like people, it may be more of a managerial or hiring issue. The point is that anyone in a customer-facing role should really like to work with people. Most of my associates agreed that the challenges that come with dealing with people become too much for someone who would rather be in a back-office role.

Could it be that poor customer service is a reflection of poor self-esteem? “People carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and then transfer this over to others,” said Deborah Choma, an instructor at Final Touch Finishing School.

To combat this, Choma has a motto that she applies in her own life every day: Be nice to everyone, because everyone is having a tough day.

“I have experienced, firsthand, poor customer service turnaround because I was aware of this principle and looked for a way of being kind to them and making them feel good about themselves,” she said. “Should it be this hard? Unfortunately, it is this hard.”

Ruby Syring, a 28-year veteran of customer relations and specials events at Boeing, offered that the more social media, video games and cell phones children and teens have access to, the more withdrawn they are from face-to-face interaction with people.

“This leads to awkward social skills and, therefore, what is perceived as bad customer service,” Syring said.

Christine Chen, president of Global Professional Protocol in Washington, D.C., agrees with Syring but believes there is so much time spent in solitude in today’s society that it’s not just children and teens.

“I see adults who lack people skills due to lack of people interactions,” she said.

Chen thinks poor customer service happens for a number of reasons.

“The organization itself has to have a culture of providing world-class customer service,” she said. “That needs to trickle down to the hiring stage and the training and education of employees. However, the training should not just consist of a one-day session. This needs to be ongoing — daily huddles (even a five-minute meeting), newsletters, communication, refresher courses, etc.

“I do believe the hiring process should be extremely intentional and rigorous. Too often, organizations hire just to fill a spot. It’s better to leave the position vacant in order to find the best person who will take seriously the company’s value of world-class customer service.”

Teri Haynes of Business Interaction in Shreveport, La., took it even further.

“In looking at the big picture, I think so many of our problems are because of our ME attitude,” she said. “As a society, we are concerned with ourselves more than with other people. This is reflected in poor customer service, road rage, petty crime, etc. Although we can and should certainly work with adults to develop better manners, starting in the home is the most effective cure.

“My appreciation goes to all of the etiquette instructors who work with children. Perhaps we should consider developing parental etiquette classes!”

Parental etiquette classes — not a bad idea. What do you think?

A Collage of Poor Customer Service Examples

(tmuka video)

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class, get more information on Thursday night classes in Santa Barbara, or to get his book. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook. Follow John Daly on Twitter: @johndalyjrClick here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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