Want to provide great customer service? Empower your people!

Everything in business sales — and sales is customer service. How do the people who represent you show up and serve your clients?

I needed to upgrade the prescription for my glasses; the frames were barely used, so instead of just replacing them I wanted to re-use them. (Did you know that it costs more to buy lenses for existing frames than it does to buy a complete set of glasses? Well, that’s another story.)

I went to the eye doctor, got a new prescription, and handed it to the manager of the store along with two sets of frames. I begged for a rush job since I would be traveling, but she said she “couldn’t control that.” Hmph!

I picked up the glasses, and over the following weeks I realized that the prescription was wrong: they were supposed to be progressives, but I couldn’t read anything wearing them. Cut to another trip to the store, where — after much haggling — the manager agreed to take the glasses back to replace the lenses again, but only after she could speak with my eye doctor. Because of the confusion I had to make a return trip to the eye doctor, who told me that they had installed the wrong prescription — period.

Back to the store — again — where I was told that, because progressive lenses were more expensive, I would have to pay an additional $120 to get my frames filled with the correct prescription. Since I’ve been a great client/customer at this store (five pairs of glasses in the last two years from the Tierces), I wondered if perhaps she could do something about the additional fee to compensate for the fact that they had it wrong from the beginning. The store manager wrote down the name and number for her district manager and suggested that I take it higher up!

No one could find the district manager because she’s on the road, and after much deliberation I was put in touch with the customer service manager, who offered to replace the lenses for $25.00 per pair. I said that was nice, but zero would be nicer.

They have an annoyed customer on their hands — had they empowered their manager to negotiate with me, or had the manager called her boss while I was in the store to plead my case, this could have been prevented. I was annoyed when I walked in because I was prepared for a battle and I got one. It would have been easy for the manager to make me feel like my experience matters to the company by behaving as though she cared. How? Well, she could have called her manager directly and fixed the situation, or she could have waived the cost on her own.

Is that how they want me to feel? In the world of blogging, tweeting and Yelp! customers have a voice, and not one that service providers or retailers really want us to have. No matter how right or wrong I think one of my clients is, I will always do what I need to do in order to have them walk away satisfied — not annoyed or angry. Empower the people who represent you to work out issues, to right wrongs, to take responsibility and action on behalf of their reputation.

If someone on my team takes action to correct a concern or problem they’ll be applauded first — if I don’t agree with the tactic used or the money refunded we can address that later, but customer satisfaction is number one on my list of what matters. It should be number one for all retailers, service providers and professionals. I know there are other mortgage companies to serve my clients, just like there are other eyeglass stores (at least 10 near me) where I can take my business. I’m loyal, until I’m given a reason not to be — you should be too!

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