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Is It Really the Agent’s Fault?

Posted on : 19-01-2012 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service

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As Consumers when an experience is not pleasant we like to blame someone, often times it is the agent we are dealing with. Is this right? Usually not.

I was reading a few news stories that my readers will find interesting. First was from SmartMoney regarding 10 Things You Will Not Here a Customer Service Rep Say. It is a very thorough look at the state of Customer Service. It is sad to me that we are training Customers to be loud to get proper service. Do we really think that is a good idea for our brand image? Service better get their act together if they want to win in an @YourService world.

Another article, Customer Service Needs Friendly Returns, comes from the Columbus Local News. This article takes a look at a popular topic this time of year, retail returns. Like many of us I feel the same way as the author regarding returns. Often you feel like a suspect instead of a Customer. But to me the friendliness of the representative is determined by the culture of the business they work for. Have you returned items to Target in recent years? A few years back they changed their return policy to be more stringent. Basically for most items you have 90 days and you must have a receipt. If you do not have a receipt they will try to locate it for you (of course you have to know the credit card that was used and be the one with the card). You can fully review their return policy by reviewing here and here. I have witnessed and experience with the no exceptions to the policy, including one person who was at 91 days.

Now let’s look at the return policy for a store I enjoy shopping at. Kohls, often ranked as a top Customer Service retailer, has their Hassle-Free Return Policy. One time I returned a George Foreman Grill that was used but had trouble in the first couple of months. I dreaded returning it because I lost the receipt. I walked up to the service counter prepared for a hassle and instead I was greeted with the friendliest person who said no problem, I would be happy to process that return for you. It amazes me how friendly they have been over the years. Because of this I have spent a lot of money there.

Where would you rather work? Kohl’s is constantly sending messages to the Customer and employee about trust and creating the right experience. Have you ever forgotten a coupon at Kohl’s? No problem here is one for you. I remember years ago working for a different major department store retailer the senior leadership made the decision to not honor coupons unless they brought them with them. How stupid is that to send a Customer ready to buy out of the store. These decisions impact the culture of your employees and the trust of the Customer. I am sure Target’s decision was based on tons of data collected. I am willing to bet, it is impacting their bottom line but not in the way they expected. Including less loyal Customers (I am in that boat) and employee turnover.

I agree we need friendlier returns, but it starts with having an @YourService culture.