Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

It’s every business–owner’s nightmare: a furious customer on the end of a phone demanding to know why their purchase hasn’t been delivered, why it’s broken, or even to complain about a member of your staff. Even if the problem isn’t actually your fault, it is crucial to have a proper complaints policy in place.

Recently I made a complaint for the first time and was gratified when I received a full and genuine–sounding letter of apology in return. I was less pleased a couple of weeks later when I received a call from the same company wanting feedback. Although I had been satisfied by the initial apology, being asked by a bored–sounding woman whether I was ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the apology instantly grated. It was clear that the apology was merely part of a process; my answers were probably being tapped into a database as I spoke. For me, this meant that the sentiment of the original letter was lost.

Business Link advises business owners to deal with complaints ‘courteously, sympathetically and – above all – swiftly’. Obviously it is important to find out whether your policy works – but is it a good idea to call up the recently–irate customer and take up more of their time only to fill out a brief questionnaire? How useful is a questionnaire anyway? I would suggest that the best feedback is whether the customer returns to you after having made a complaint.

Word–of–mouth recommendation is arguably the best PR for small businesses, but similarly a bad experience can damage your firm’s reputation. It is vital to handle a customer’s complaint sensitively and promptly, but at the same time ensure that you are motivated by the customer’s needs, not just by the desire to prevent bad publicity.

It seems that many people I know have had bad experiences at the hands of larger companies, and this is an area where small businesses can excel. By its nature, a small business is much more likely to offer a personal touch when it comes to dealing with complaints. Rather than having to wait in endless queues, being passed from one customer service manager to another, your customers can connect with you directly to get the answers and, if necessary, the apologies they want.

What do you think? Have you ever had any complaints, and how did you handle them? Did you ask for feedback, and how did you implement it? Are you a customer whose complaints were handled well? If not, how could it have been improved?

Clare Bullock, BHP Information Solutions


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Every business has its sales peaks and troughs. A gym in January is supposedly one of the classic peaks. “I’ve eaten too much turkey, I must go to the gym and punish myself”.

The small club I run in Bristol was founded on the concept of “ethical exercise”, because we are not dealing with inanimate objects, but real people. In practice, we pride ourselves in telling people what they need to do, which usually differs from what they wanted to hear. This concept is not unique to the fitness industry.

The big question for us is this: Should we take advantage of the public’s desire to abuse themselves with a gym machine on the assumption that if we don’t take their money someone else will? We could put the fund to good use. Or should we “maintain our professional integrity” and tell them the truth, that it’s better (for the body’s physical and psychological health) to bang your head against a brick wall for 30 minutes than attempt to purge excesses with exercise?

The question is further complicated by both our hot water and central heating boilers breaking down in December, requiring an outlay of just over £1,500. It would, of course, be tempting to try to recoup that from some January lemmings.

In one of my favourite training handbooks, Superslow by Ken Hutchins, there is a chapter about the “Real vs assumed objective”.

The Real objective is to deliberately stress the body to illicit a response for the better (faster, stronger, etc). The assumed objective is to set yourself a target (eg 12 reps/5km) and cheat just to get there.

As I often do, this was applied to the above “big question”, which leads to the following answer. My business is based upon ethical exercise and it must succeed or fail on this principle, otherwise the Real objective is compromised.

Please don’t think I’m preaching. I still haven’t got the heating fixed, but I’m sleeping well at night.

Ross Campbell, The Exercise Club


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When starting a courier business you need to be aware of giving the best customer service and giving the correct information about what you can and cannot deliver.

A firework in Bratislava, Slovakia, 2005
Image via Wikipedia

Quite simply it’s a balance. If you don’t advise your customers in the right manner – you will lose them. If you lean too far the other way and do something illegal, you could lose your growing business.

Some of the things a courier should not be delivering:

  • Chemicals, unless your courier company has invested in the correct ADR training and certification, a courier should not deliver chemicals. There are certain exemptions such as limited quantities.
  • Livestock, that’s right – no animals can be transported with out the correct licences and training
  • Human/Animal remains – again these are a specialist delivery that you would need to be certified for. A customer asking you to bring back the remains of an animal from a vet could get you in trouble if payment was accepted.
  • Fireworks, Firearms and weaponry – again the correct licenses and training are needed and limited quantities may apply. Check before accepting a consignment of these goods.

There are some things a courier cannot transport because of insurance and the related costs to that. They may be items that are mostly likely to break in transit, so therefore the customer should be warned that a delivery cannot take place due to insurance reasons. The customer may then make a decision as to whether they want the delivery to proceed or not.

  • Glass
  • Fine art
  • Jewellery

When taking your delivery request from your customer, the courier should establish what needs to be delivered and if the item is in boxes. The courier would need to ask exactly what is in the boxes in order to give the best customer service to the client.

When starting a courier business, it’s essential to get the right advice and the correct information about what you can and cannot deliver.  Failure to do so can cost you your livelihood.

Sarah Arrow

Sarah Arrow is co-author of the Complete Courier Guide which is filled with up to the minute information regarding starting a courier business. She is also the author of twitter for couriers explaining in depth how couriers and transport companies can gain business from twitter.


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Some time ago I blogged about how a failing local Fitness Club had been taken over and turned around by a new, enthusiastic management team.

18 months down the line and I am happy to report that the club is still going from strength to strength. Indeed, it is so popular that it’s restricting new memberships.

The secret? Customer service and attention to detail. It is honestly that simple.

It is not the best appointed fitness club in the world, there’s no pool or sauna. Perhaps that’s why it doesn’t attract poseurs.

The staff all know you by name, offer sensible advice and tips, and help you get the most out of a short trip to the gym.

I know some people use their gym as a social activity. But for me, I just want to concentrate on the fitness while I’m there, so it suits me. I get enough socialising down the pub, thanks!

I wish I could link you to their website… but they don’t have one. Which, if you think about it, only strengthens the case for good old-fashioned word of mouth. They have built the business on referrals. Power to them.

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