‘All things in moderation’ applies to customer service

Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle stated, “All things in moderation.” Believe it or not, this applies to customer service.

Given my ongoing advocacy for good customer service, I find it difficult—but necessary—to also advocate for all things in moderation when it comes to delivering top-notch customer care.

Increasingly, in an apparent effort to provide superior service, some companies are going overboard. This, too, can prove to be the weakest link. Examples include:

Surplus of surveys
While a needed and valuable tool, surveys are becoming intrusive. You go to the dentist, survey. You call your telecom provider, survey. Even before you talk to customer service, you’re asked to participate in a survey. In theory, this is wholly appropriate. However, as with everything, overexposure can lead to under-participation. It’s human nature to start resisting when approached too often.

So, what’s a good middle ground? After all, surveys can be extremely valuable to take the temperature of customers and improve service. Instead of asking for participation in a survey every time there’s an interaction, set the stage and ask the bigger question (and for more overarching permission). Here’s the basic idea: “Your feedback is key to our ability to improve the quality of your experience. However, we realize that you’re busy, and the last thing we want to do is ask for more of your time when you have less of it to give. So that we can match our level of survey outreach to your ability and willingness to participate, please let us know your preferences.”

Then, you can detail some boxes for them to check. Yes, this is a survey about doing surveys, but by asking for specific permission levels, you communicate your desire to be respectful of the customer’s schedule and mindset. This goes beyond opting out so as not to be bothered. While this may eliminate some folks who would otherwise grudgingly participate and provide valuable feedback, it also builds goodwill with the customer base at-large. In essence, asking permission is a very important, respectful element of good customer service.

Over-orating
We’ve all heard the verbiage: “I’m so sorry you’ve had this experience,” “Have an awesome day,” “We absolutely want to take care of your concerns,” and so on. What’s wrong with this? After all, they’re communicating concern, camaraderie and desire to help.

Too often, it sounds canned. It sounds like a script being used in customer service departments across the country. It sounds like they’re trying too hard. Why not empower customer reps to communicate in a style that most resonates with the specific customer? With me, a bunch of canned gobbledygook does more harm than good. For others, it may be just the ticket. Customer service reps always can use the canned default if unsure or uncomfortable in the situation.

Over-offering
Either because it’s an upselling tactic or an authentic effort to provide additional assistance, reps sometimes keep offering new products or services to improve future performance and experience. Again, it’s important to empower reps to read the situation and gear follow-up inquiries accordingly. If someone is obviously in a hurry, it’s likely not wise to keep asking questions and taking up time. On the other hand, when someone genuinely seems interested, reps can offer genuine ways to help.

As customer service policies evolve, make sure the “sweet spot” between too little and too much is addressed.

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Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience.

Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage,  Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm.

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